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Over time, the Columbia County Emergency 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Department, as it’s officially known, has increasingly become the nerve center for emergency response in Columbia County.

As director of 9-1-1 Rob Lopez says, “The 9-1-1 center is basically quarterbacking EMS services,” which includes fire, medical, or police-related activity. “The active role that 9-1-1 dispatchers play in managing an incident has greatly increased. Dispatch isn’t what it was 20 years ago.”

Director Lopez manages his department with a full-time staff of 12, including himself. In all, county 9-1-1 dispatches for 31 fire companies, five rescue squads, all police agencies on emergency calls, the county Haz-Mat team, and the county Cause and Origin Team…