City and county officials opened the doors to the new Ford County Emergency Communications on Friday.

The new location at 1506 W. Comanche Street, is the new home to the Ford County Communications 911 dispatch center and Ford County Emergency Department.

The previous location for the Ford County departments were held at the Government Center at 100 Gunsmoke Street and has been a three-year process in moving to the new site.

"This has been a tremendous amount of work," said Ford County Communications director Elliot Linke. "There have been a lot of people involved. Every person in this room has had some sort of involvement with what we're doing here.

"This is a prime example of the city and county working together."

Emergency Communications covers both Dodge City and Ford County emergency responses.

The dispatch center is the hub for dispatching Dodge City Police Department, Ford County Sheriff's Office, Dodge City Fire and Ford County Fire & EMS first responders throughout the county.

"We have done some amazing things," Linke said. "Our first responders are top-notch here in the county and we're proud to support them."

With an expanded facility, more technology was put in place to better navigate first responders to emergency situations with drone technology mapping parts of the county and upgraded 911 call center technologies to support the community.

Part of the technology implemented was through a partnership with Motorola.

"One of the things I was charged with early on is leveraging the tax payer dollar to its maximum benefit," Linke said. "Motorola stepped up to that challenge and they did an astounding job and did right by the Ford County taxpayers."

During the opening ceremony, Linke and other officials made a dedication to the Michael Burkhart family of HAM Radio Station, which had been on-site at Ford County Communications for many years.

Burkhart was a public safety benefactor for several years who was a reserve for Ford County Fire & EMS.

Burkhart died in 2016.

"He was a proud supporter of emergency services throughout the county," Linke said. "Also, a supporter of communications technology throughout southwest Kansas and was responsible for HAM radio repeater networks that tied into all the hospitals during a disaster.

"He was instrumental in bringing in many things that happened in the background and also in public safety."

In honor of Burkhart, the Ford County Emergency Communications facility named the HAM Radio Station for him.

The Burkhart family was in attendance and accepted the plaque that will be placed near the station in his honor.

As expansion is now in place, the technology will allow Ford County to be more innovative.

One highlight Linke alluded to was the employees of Ford County Communications and the emergency management department.

"The key to all of this from the standpoint of the (Ford County) advisory board and commissions and administrative staff is that it all centers around people," Linke said, "and how we leverage the people that we have and enable them to do an amazing job.

"Everything we have done here is people-focused. There is a lot of overwhelming technology, but the reality is these are the people that are running that technology and making these things happen and making their jobs easier and making the citizens of Ford County safer."

 

To contact the writer, email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com