Combined communications center for Hays County nearing reality

by Anita Miller

Discussion stopped short of an official opening of the county’s Combined Emergency Communications Center (CECC), but much progress has been made toward that goal, Precinct 3 Commissioner Lon Shell said earlier this month.

Approved by voters in 2016 as part of the $237 million public safety bond, the CECC was originally intended to bring under one roof all emergency communications for all law enforcement agencies in the county. The San Marcos Police Department soon opted out and recently, Texas State University opted in. Currently, the CECC will house communications for the Kyle, Texas State University and Buda police departments, the Kyle, North Hays, Buda, and South Hays fire departments, and the Wimberley, San Marcos and Buda EMS departments, and the Hays County Emergency Services Department.

“We’ve been working on this for a very long time,” Shell said, including various personnel on site training in a mock communications center. “They’ve been learning the system for close to a year,” he said, with dispatchers from Kyle coming to the site on Stagecoach Road in San Marcos outside of their regular working hours.

“They’ve been working with us to make sure when we go live, we’re all on the same page,” which Shell said was an extraordinary effort given the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s been challenging but it’s going to pay off.”

The CECC has advantages both during times of disaster like the floods of 2015 and the day-to-day emergency situations.

County Judge Ruben Becerra gave the example of an individual needing assistance within a municipality, and that jurisdiction’s officers are a distance away — while at the same time, someone from the county was only blocks away. CECC dispatchers would be able to see all available resources and their locations in order to provide quicker assistance wherever it might be needed.

“United” is a key word, Becerra said. “The more we unite the stronger we become.”

“It really has taken all of you working together,” Shell agreed.

Shell said the county fire marshal and others housed on Yarrington Road have already been moved in and other agencies will be doing so later this month. “The building is finished,” he said, with just technology tweaks remaining.

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