Chatham’s 911 Communications earns Center of Excellence accreditation

Pittsboro, NC – Chatham County Communications has become one of a very select group achieving the most prominent distinction in 911 emergency communication services. The center is one of just 43 emergency dispatch centers in the world to attain the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch® (IAED™) status as an Accredited Center of Excellence (ACE) for its use of the Fire Priority Dispatch System™ (FPDS®).

Tia Rogers, assistant shift supervisor for Chatham County Communications, responds to a call in the 911 Communications Center. Like other communicators, Rogers participated in many hours of training to help the county earn its ACE designation for Fire Priority Dispatch.

Chatham County Communications already had attained ACE status for its use of the Medical Priority Dispatch System™ (MPDS®). These two accreditations place it among the very highest-performing emergency dispatch agencies in the world. Only 22 centers in the world have earned both the Fire and Medical accreditation. In North Carolina, Chatham is the sixth agency to achieve Fire ACE and only the fourth to attain both Fire ACE and Medical ACE status.

Chatham County Communication Director Mike Reitz added, “It is quite amazing that a growing rural county like Chatham is one of an elite group of communication centers to earn these designations. What an honor for our staff and the county.” 

IAED Chair of Accreditation Christof C. Chwojka, added, “There’s a tremendous amount of work that goes into achieving ACE status. We’re certainly proud of Chatham County Communications and its accomplishment. It’s not easy becoming an ACE in two disciplines, but Chatham County did amazing work.” 

ACE inspires agencies to provide superior, industry best practices in public safety and to employ efficient use of resources when handling all emergency call situations. Accreditation requires an intensive self-assessment based on the IEAD’s rigorous Twenty Points of Accreditation. Agencies must meet or exceed all twenty points of accreditation, which requires participation from the department leader down to the individual emergency dispatcher. 

“Meeting the ACE standards and requirements means that callers can have peace of mind knowing the communicators have the best possible training to appropriately address their needs,” said Reitz. 

Chatham County Communications Quality Assurance Coordinator Adam Gaines said, “The entire team is thrilled with this accomplishment, which is the culmination of a year’s worth of intense hard work, dedication, and perseverance by our dispatchers and staff. To be one of only 22 agencies in the world to have achieved a dual-ACE in Medical and Fire is quite an accomplishment.” 

Gaines said the Fire ACE status also “helps fire departments have greater confidence that fire-related calls are handled effectively with a high standard of customer service and care.”

Both Gaines and Reitz give much of the credit to the emergency dispatchers, who display constant professionalism, hard work, exceptional dedication and a strong commitment to the ACE program. 

“You really can’t have a better team of people than our dispatch personnel,” Reitz said.

Gaines said the hard work does not end with the accreditation. “Chatham Communications will continue to focus on providing the level of service as expected from an Accredited Center of Excellence. We must remain focused on correctly grading calls for quality assurance, constantly evaluating the effectiveness of our call taking policies, and continually motivating our dispatchers to think about the way we are processing calls.” 

As part of the process, the IAED’s Board of Accreditation reviewed the county’s application and documentation of the Twenty Points and conducted a thorough on-site visit.

There are more than 190 centers throughout the world that have the ACE distinction among the 3,500 centers worldwide using the fire, police, medical, and nurse triage protocols for safe and efficient response to the wide variety of emergency situations.