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Ludlow announces $4.8M updates to its emergency dispatch system

Ludlow Public Safety Complex
Caitlin Reardon / NEPM
Ludlow Public Safety Complex

The new dispatch system allows for more efficient communication between Ludlow police and fire departments, and a quicker emergency response time.

The Ludlow Police and Fire Departments announced Friday an updated dispatch system, after the town invested $4.8 million into the five-year-long effort to streamline its emergency response equipment.

The updates include mobile and portable radios, a trunk system that allows for the users to share a set of frequencies, and more.

“With these new consoles, they can simultaneously dispatch us. So they dispatch police and fire at the same exact time over...different channels, but speaking the same language, speaking the same messages, so we can respond [to] it much more efficiently, much more effectively,” Deputy Fire Chief Jeffrey Lavoie said.

The old system (prior to the centralized dispatch), in which some radios dated back as far as 20 years, directed Ludlow callers with medical emergencies to the Massachusetts State Police, then to the Ludlow Police Department, and next to the town’s fire department. This was frustrating to callers and wasted valuable time, Lavoie said.

The deputy fire chief also mentioned that the two departments merged into a “central dispatch” in 2019 for a more effective communication between the sectors.

“Since then we've been completely invested in Central Dispatch. They've been a great asset to the town,” he said.

In addition to new radios and screens, the public safety complex also underwent some renovations to ensure that audio and acoustics would not coincide while responders take multiple calls in the same room, at the same time.

Responder Shaun Andre says the changes are very beneficial and more organized than before. “Every instance that we do is cutting down our response time, making it faster for our officers and fire department to respond adequately,” he said.

The initiative also required new infrastructure, like towers, shelters and generators.

“Our radio system is the best because we have coverage throughout the entire town. Prior to our radio project, there were many spots that we didn't have at all radio communication…We never had the ability to talk to everybody, which we do now,” Lavoie said.

The updates were also implemented into Ludlow schools, Board of Health and Department of Public Works and senior center.

“If there was an emergency at our schools, they can talk directly to our dispatchers, through the teachers,” Lavoie said. “From a public safety standpoint, it brings everybody tied together, which is just tremendous.”

Chief of Police Daniel Valadas then recognized a group of dispatchers for their outstanding work in responding to emergency calls this year. Dispatchers Shaun Andre, Ashlee Korny and Linda Zina received certificates of commendations and honorary coins. Others were recognized throughout the week for National Public Safety Telecommunications Week.

“It's almost daily. It's difficult to go through how many commendable acts every day by these professional people. I can't say enough about them. I'm extremely proud to be the chief of police in a wonderful community and with these wonderful people and our wonderful partners, and I thank all of them,” Valadas said.

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