The Monroe County Control Center dates back to as early as 1959, when 1 dispatcher per shift handled police and fire calls for Stroudsburg Borough. Ambulance calls were handled by the ‘General Hospital’, now Pocono Medical Center.
The Stroudsburg dispatcher had a very interesting system to contact the police department, before radios were installed in the police car. There were red lights on a small pole, on top of the few traffic lights on Main Street in Stroudsburg. When the dispatcher received a police call, he would flip the light switch. This caused the red lights to illuminate. When the officer saw that the red lights were on, he would return to police headquarters to pick up the information on the call! One light still remains on the corner of 8th & Main Streets, although it has not been used since radios were put in the police cars in the 1960’s.
To notify the fire department of a fire, the dispatcher would simply turn on the siren on top of the firehouse. The firefighters would respond to the firehouse, and the dispatcher would tell them at that time, where the fire was! The siren remains in use today, although all fire department members are also outfitted with pagers, and all fire trucks are outfitted with radios.
In 1975, the Boroughs of East Stroudsburg and Stroudsburg and the Township of Stroud decided to merge their dispatch services to handle emergency police and fire calls. Calls for these 3 municipalities were handled by dispatchers located in the East Stroudsburg Acme Hose Co. building’s 2nd floor. At the time of the merger, the municipalities set up the Board of Directors to oversee the operation of the Control Center. The Board configuration remains the same today, 2 representatives from each of the owner municipalities. The Board of Directors still oversees the operation of the Control Center and has appointed a Director of Communications and a Deputy Communications Director to oversee the day-to-day aspects of the emergency Public Safety Dispatch center.
Around 1978, the Monroe County Control Center Board of Directors was approached by other townships and municipalities to contract dispatch services to them. The Board of Directors agreed to dispatch calls for other municipalities at that time. Around the same time, the General Hospital of Monroe County no longer dispatched ambulances from the hospital. A county-wide ambulance radio network was installed, and the Monroe County Control Center also began dispatching ambulances, in addition to fire and police services. As the call volume grew, additional dispatchers were added to the busier shifts, normally 2 per shift.
In the year 2000 Stroud Township Supervisors decided to withdraw from the Control Center leaving the original Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg Borough’s as owners. The Control Center Board configuration remains with two representatives from each of the owner municipalities responsible for the operation.
In August, 1982 the Monroe County Control Center moved from its cramped headquarters above the firehouse to the basement of the Monroe County Courthouse in an effort to expand its working space to accommodate the ever-increasing call volume and additional dispatchers. Since 1982, when the Courthouse space seemed adequate, call volume has increased dramatically along with the county population, and now barely contains the 6 dispatchers on a shift.
Since about 1997 with the increase in call volume and the need for additional personnel space became a first priority on the list of “things that need to be addressed”. Because of the Control Center’s limited funding stream in 1999 the Control Center and the Monroe County Commissioners started talks about additional space to expand the communications center operation. The timing couldn’t have been better since the Commissioners were in the process of developing plans to build a new fire training facility. The County financed the new Monroe County Public Safety Center that houses the emergency services training facility and the Monroe County Office of Emergency Services with funds derived from a bond issue and $3.5 million dollar federal grant from Congressman Joseph McDade.
It wasn’t until the third quarter of the year 2000 was a lease and loan negotiated between the respective political entities which set the path for where and how the Control Center was going to go and more importantly, how were to get there.
The building was designed with a second floor with approximately 7400 square feet that eventually was to become the space to house the Monroe County Control Center. The new Control Center facility integrates all of the dispatch and support staff functions, including for future expansion to Enhanced 9-1-1.
The move was completed in June 2001.