Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Job Search - Opening for a full-time Deputy Communications Director

Knox County is opening a search for a full-time Deputy Communications Director at the Knox Regional Communications Center (KRCC). The position would start July 2, 2017. The Deputy Communications Director will assist the Communications Director in planning, organizing and directing the day to day operation of the Agency and serves as a liaison with user agencies and other local, county, state, and federal agencies. This position will also be responsible for the overall administration of the Agency’s internal human resources services, including but not limited to recruitment, training and education, policy and procedure development, problem resolution, employee labor relations issues, and overall employee morale and retention. The proposed schedule for the position is 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, subject to changes as needed for training, meetings, etc. 

Applicants must have a high school education or the equivalent, plus technical or specialized training equivalent to that acquired in a 2-year college, technical or business school, and be a Certified Terminal Operator, Certified Emergency Medical Dispatcher, Certified Fire Dispatcher, and Certified Emergency Telecommunicator. Applicants must also have at least 4 - 5 years of management experience or the equivalent combination of education and experience in progressive management, with at least 3 years supervisory experience, and practical knowledge in communications technologies, including the application of such to 9-1-1 systems. Applicants must have no criminal record and be willing to submit to both psychological and polygraph examinations. Please see the job description for the full list of requirements.

The County provides an excellent benefits package to full-time employees including health insurance (100% paid for the employee, and 75% for family coverage), paid vacation and sick leave, retirement plan, and other voluntary benefits. The pay range for this position is $24.06 - $27.63 depending on experience.

To apply, interested applicants must provide a completed Knox County job application, copies of all required certifications as spelled out in the job description, resume, and cover letter. Application packets may either be mailed to the Knox County Administrative Office at 62 Union Street in Rockland, ME 04841, emailed to crichards@knoxcountymaine.gov, or can be dropped off in person at the same location. Application forms and job descriptions are available at the County Administrator’s office and on the County’s website: www.knoxcountymaine.gov. All application materials must be turned into the Knox County Administrative Office by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, March 31, 2017. The County reserves the right to reject any and all applications and to select the most qualified applicant(s).

Friday, January 20, 2017

When Alexa Calls 9-1-1…..

When Alexa Calls 9-1-1…..
CES, formerly the Consumer Electronics Show, recently concluded in Los vegas. Alexa conquered the show, and seemed to be eveerywhere. Alexa is, of course, the voice-activated digital assistant developed by Amazon.

Alexa has a long and growing list of commands ranging from “Alexa Shut Up” to “Alexa Give me a Game of Thrones Quote” to skills commands like “Alexa Ask Lyft for a Ride” which enables a specific skill written by Lyft to engage their car-sharing service.

Alexa is being married with a new geneeration of “smart devices”. So if your light bulbs are smart enough, Alexa can control them (Alexa, turn off the lights in the bedroom”). If your garage door is smart enough, Alexa can open it. Audio equipment, smart phones, even cars (Ford is building Alexa into it’s vehicles) will have Alexa controls. Anything that can be connected will be connected to Alexa.

But what happens when you say “Alexa, call 9-1-1”?

Right now, of course, nothing happens. Alexa cannot use the telephone, or make a phone call. But, it can – and does – send data and your voice across the internet to the Amazon cloud. And, as Amazon develops Alexa’s expertise, it is only a matter of time until such a “call 9-1-1” skill is built.

The Bright Side of Alexa 9-1-1 Calls

Anyone who has been a victim of a crime understands the potential for using Alexa to call 9-1-1. Someone breaks into your houose, and you fumble to find a phone and fumble to unlock it and then punch in 9-1-1. But Alexa is “always on, always listening”. You simply say “Alexa, call 9-1-1”.
But then what happens? Does Alexa “keep the line open” so you can talk to the 9-1-1 opeerator? What if you have to leave the room or get out of Alexa’s range as you retreat into a closet or try to find the burglar? Should an individual Alexa device in one room automatically activate all the other Alexa devices (Echo, Dot, Tap, Firestick, etc.) everywhere in the house and put them on the line with the 9-1-1 operator?
Alexa will soon be able to control video cameras and audio devices throuoghout the house. Should “Alexa, call 9-1-1” automatically activate all such devices? Should it connect them to digital recorders or maybe automatically connect them all to the 9-1-1 center so the operator can hear and see what is going on? (9-1-1 centers can not receive video right now, but with NextGen 9-1-1 that capability will become available).
FirstNet will be deploying a nationwide cellular network for First Responders and their smart phones, mobile and tablet computers. With FirstNet, responding officers could actually connect via a push through from the 9-1-1 operator, as they are responding , with such inputs – video cameras and Alexa devices, so officers could hear and see what is happening inside the house.
There will also be Alexa-enabled vehicles. Could an Alexa-enabled vehicle become somewhat “self aware”, so it might detect that it is being hotwired – that its owneer is not present, and call 9-1-1 to aleert police of the crime in progress? Or perhaps the car wouold detect that its windows are being broken, activate tiny video cameras around the car, and also, with Alexa, alert the 9-1-1 center of a crime in progress.
But some 9-1-1 emergencies are not crimes, but a fire. The urgency of a quick connection to 9-1-1 is underscored in a fire, as people need to call 9-1-1 and get out of the premises quickly. Alexa-capable devices will eventually connect to fire alarms and sensors in the house. Perhaps, eventually, people will also have sensors in their clothes so Alexa could also precisely locate people inside a house. These devices will eventually have GPS beacons so their locations are precisely known. All of this information could be available to responding firefighters so they could see the location of the fire and potentially the location of every human being and pet inside the home, invaluable information for saving lives in the first few seconds after firefighters arrive.
Many 9-1-1 calls are medical emergencies – diabetic shock or a heart attack or a stroke or a fall. Again, Alexa will be invaluable in summoning aid. An elderly person falls and shatters her femur. With Alexa, all she would have to say is “Alexa, call 9-1-1” and she’d be immediately connected to help.
Again, biosensors are being embedded in humans today and this trend will continue. Heart pacemakers, insulin pumps, glucos monitors, blood pressure monitors are all devices wwe attach to our bodies to monitor our health. These devices could eventually be controlled by Alexa, or at least send information to Alexa, which would establish a history and pattern which could be invaluable to the paramedic responding to 9-1-1 calls. With “Alexa, call 9-1-1” plus FirstNet all of that information could be sent to the 9-1-1 center and then pushed through to responding medical technicians and hospitals.
In fact, the potential for such life-saving applications could, eventually, lead to a mandate that all voice-activated digital assistants in a home must have the capability to call 9-1-1just as today every cell phone – even if you haven’t paid the bill, are mandated to connect 9-1-1 calls to a public safety answering point.
The Dark Side of Alexa 9-1-1 Calls
Just as Alexa’s potential for saving lives and solving crimes through 9-1-1 calling is the “bright side”, there is also a “dark side” of enabling this capability.

The most immediate effect will be on understaffed 9-1-1 centers. The sheer number of 9-1-1 calls will rise. The quality of the calls may also drop as people try to talkl to their voice enabled devices as they move from room to room, making it hard for 9-1-1 operators to hear and interact with the caller. In fact, many Alexa-based 9-1-1 calls may become the equivalent of a “9-1-1 hang-up” call today, where officers are dispatched out of concern that domestic violence or another crime is occurring and the caller is unable to reconnect with the 9-1-1 center.
In addition, Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP’s) may become overloaded with data during these calls. Security companies will rush to develop Alexa-enabled products. These could be video cameras placed around the house, coupled with movement sensors, heat/fire sensors, door and window sensors (to determine if a door/window is open or shattered), and so forth. Such a system would allow a homeowner to know the status of her home at any time or place. But all of this data could also be transmitted to a 9-1-1 center (via FirstNet) and pushed out to responders enroute. With the advent of inexpensive video cameeras, the sheer amount of data (multiple video feeds, for example) would easilly overwhelm the 9-1-1 center.
Privacy, Hacking
Today there is significant concern about the amount of data and information collected about individuals today throough their use of the internet and social media. The advent of voice-activated digital assistants and homes of sensors increases those concerns.
Beyond the data collection is the potential for hacking these digital assistants – or the smart devices they control. We can imagine many frightening scenarios, such as criminals hacking into a home’s smart devices and directing them to open all the doors and windows to simplify a burglary. Worse yet, a criminal syndicate or a hostile nation state might direct all the Alexas (or other digital assistants) in a city or state to “call 9-1-1” overwhelming 9-1-1 cwenters and first responders and throwing a nation into chaos.
Conclusion
“Alexa, Call Nine One One”. Five simple words which carry such power, such potential for improving public safety, solving crimes and rushing aid to victims of fires and health emergencies. Five simple words which raise numerous issues about the staffing preparedness of our 9-1-1 center and public policy which our elected leaders will need to address.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Nationwide Emergency Alert System Test Scheduled for September 28, 2016

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in collaboration with the FCC, will conduct a nationwide test of the emergency alert system (EAS) September 28th at 1420 hrs (2:20 P/M) EST. A secondary test date is scheduled for October 05 if necessary.

EAS participants must be prepared – and are required – to participate in a test on both the primary and alternate test dates. The test is the second nationwide test of the EAS following the first nationwide test in 2011.

The nationwide test will assess the reliability and effectiveness of the EAS, with a particular emphasis on testing FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), the integrated gateway through which common alerting protocol (CAP)-based EAS alerts are disseminated to EAS participants. The test message will clearly state that the alert is only a test of the EAS. FEMA’s alert will be transmitted in English and Spanish and include both audio and the text of the test message, which can be used to populate an accessible video crawl.

These improvements will help ensure all members of the public, including non-English speakers and individuals with disabilities, will receive emergency information, an FCC public notice said. The test will provide an opportunity to evaluate this and other measures that the FCC has adopted to address issues identified in connection with the 2011 nationwide EAS test.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Be your own kind of hero

Just out of curiosity, is being a super hero on your bucket list? Do you want to assist in the rescue of children, talk someone through how to do CPR, direct law enforcement and fire departments to incidents and keep them updated so everyone stays safe, send help when people are in vehicle accidents and stranded on the side of the road, be the calm and comforting voice on the phone when people are scared and need help? You don’t need to daydream anymore – those things can become a reality. Become a certified 9-1-1 dispatcher at the Knox Regional Communications Center. Okay, so you won’t get a cool costume with a cape and tights, but you’ll get to be a part of something super important. No one agency or organization can keep a community safe all on its own. It takes a team effort, and you can be a part of that. Knox County will train you – no experience is necessary. Individuals with good computer skills, an eye for details, and a willingness to learn can make dispatching a very rewarding career. Go to www.knoxcountymaine.gov for details!

So what’s on your bucket list?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Still looking for applicants interested in a career in dispatching!

Have you thought about working in the field of public safety? Being a 9-1-1 dispatcher is a rewarding career for anyone who is interested in participating in the safety of their community. The job is perfect for detail-oriented people with proficient typing skills and the ability to stay focused and organized.

If you're interested in applying, you can find the County's employment application HERE. You'll need to either mail it in to the County Administrative Office at 62 Union Street in Rockland, ME 04841, or you can drop it off at the same location. Emailed or faxed applications will not be accepted. Please attach a copy of your resume to your job application, as well as a cover letter explaining why you are interested in the job. Applications are due by 2 p.m. on Friday, July 15, 2016.

If you would like to see the dispatcher job description, you will find it at the same link as the job description. If you have any questions not answered by the job description, please send your question to Administrative Assistant Candice Richards at crichards@knoxcountymaine.gov.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Knox Regional Communications Center Open House - Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Knox regional Communications Center will host an Open House at their facility at 301 Park Street in Rockland on April 16th between the hours of 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM. Tours of the Communications Center will provided by the staff. This is the first time a tour of the facility has been offered since the grand opening back on March 5, 2013. Visitors will get a chance to see the state of the art communications center where all 9-1-1 calls are processed. 

This tour will provide the opportunity to see where your 9-1-1 call goes to and the equipment used to process those calls. The staff of the 9-1-1 center provides the vital link between the citizens and the Public Safety services of the County. During the tour you will have the opportunity to learn more about the services provided by the center. The staff will also answer questions about career opportunities in the 9-1-1 Center and what it is like to be a dispatcher in this fast paced environment providing such an important service.

The open house will also feature the opportunity to see a Fire Truck, Ambulance and assorted Police vehicles on display in the parking lot. Public Safety personnel will be on hand to answer questions about their equipment and professions.

Weather permitting, Lifeflight of Maine will also have one of their helicopters on site for viewing. This is a very special opportunity for the public to see one of the helicopters up close.

Most people who need emergency medical care can be appropriately transported by ground ambulance. The sickest patients, however, need the critical care and speed that Lifeflight provides.

There will also be displays for viewing inside. The Knox County Amateur Radio Club will be staffing the mobile communications trailer and offering information about the local club and how to become a licensed amateur radio operator. Several members of the club work closely with public safety during major events to provide a secondary means of communication.

The KRCC staff will also be serving hot dogs, chips and soda throughout the event while supplies last. The staff has been working hard to plan this event to provide a unique inside look at public safety communications from the 9-1-1 call process to the service providers.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Looking for a rewarding career? Ever thought about being a full-time 9-1-1 Dispatcher?

The Knox Regional Communications Center (KRCC) is currently looking for eager, dedicated individuals interested in a career in emergency communications. Dispatchers handle requests for all law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services received via 9-1-1, telephone, intercom, and radio. The dispatcher also documents calls using computer software systems and established protocols. Dispatchers frequently interact with people who are agitated and under stress, and must have the ability to remain calm.
Applicants must be high school graduates or equivalent, be able to type at least 40 wpm, have excellent communication skills, and have no criminal record.  No prior experience is required, and the KRCC is willing to train a qualified candidate who is interested in emergency communications as a career.

The County provides an excellent benefits package to full-time employees including health insurance (100% paid for the employee, and 75% for family coverage), paid vacation and sick leave, retirement plan, and other voluntary benefits.

Interested applicants must complete a Knox County job application and either mail it to the Knox County Administrative Office at 62 Union Street in Rockland or drop it off in person at the same address. Application forms and job descriptions are available at the County Administrator’s office and on the County’s website: www.knoxcountymaine.gov. Emailed resumes will not be accepted as an application. You must submit an actual County application form. Any relevant certifications or training certificates should be submitted with your application. The County reserves the right to reject any and all applications and to select the most qualified applicant(s).
 
An Equal Opportunity Employer M/F/H