History of County Communications

During the 1947/48 fiscal year, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors established the Santa Clara County Communications Center. The new agency was housed in the Old Courthouse building at 1st and St. James streets.

May 26, 1948 – Old Courthouse (1st Street at St. James)

May 26, 1948 – Old Courthouse (1st Street at St. James)

Startup of dispatching occurred May 26th, 1948. There were four original dispatchers, including a former Woman Marine and first regular female dispatcher in the County, working  five day, eight-hour shifts on days, swing shift, and mids.

The dispatch center in the Old Courthouse was about 20 feet from the Sheriff's Office. When a radio All Points Bulletin was to be transmitted, the sergeant on duty would call in the intercom and state "drop the rope". Attached to the inside of the window overlooking the Sheriff's Department was a piece of clothesline rope with a clothespin attached. The rope was dropped out the window, the sergeant would walk out and place the sheet of paper in the clothespin, and it would be hauled up and broadcast.

When the Dispatch Center first began dispatching for what was then known as Central Fire, now known as Santa Clara County Fire Department, dispatchers would receive a reported incident over the radio, then call each station on the telephone to complete the dispatch procedure. Any stations not involved in the original call would also be notified by telephone to make them aware of the issue and vehicles dispatched. Upon return to their station(s), the dispatcher would again call each station to let each know the vehicles had returned.

In the 1949 revision of the Federal Communications Commission rules, a Fire Radio Service was set up allowing cooperative fire activities on the Police Radio Service frequencies.

In the 1948/49 timeframe, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors decided to combine the construction of a new headquarters for County Fire with a new Communications center. The new headquarters were to be located on a corner of the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds property on Tully Road. Construction of the new facility was completed in 1950.

1957 – Shared County Fire Station Headquarters – Tully Road

1957 – Shared County Fire Station Headquarters – Tully Road

During the 1950s, Santa Clara County continued to grow, with the Communications center growing in kind. This growth necessitated working with mapping specialists to draft street and jurisdictional expansions within the county. Large scale maps with cardboard backing were created to assist dispatchers in the identity of street boundaries and intersections. These maps were kept in a box in the dispatch center and were the jurisdictional source for fire and law enforcement in the entire county. Many years later, the Santa Clara County Department of Public Works would have aerial photos made and continuously updated.

In 1958, a plan for the Santa Clara County Communications Center to assume control for all ambulance dispatching within the county was forwarded to the County Executive's Office. This plan was implemented in 1961 and County Communications became a tri-community dispatching center.

With County Communications expanding, the search for a new site to house the Communications Center was underway. The site at the end of Carol Drive was selected to house Communications. In 1959, The new Santa Clara County Communications Center site and building were complete. There have been a number of modifications to the building over the years, but the Communications Center is still housed at the end of Carol Drive.

1959 - Civil Defense and Disaster officials inspect the new Carol Drive Communications Center

1959 - Civil Defense and Disaster officials inspect the new Carol Drive Communications Center (at right, Robert A. Mason - First Director of County Communications)

 

December 1, 1959 – Present, Carol Drive Facility

December 1, 1959 – Present, Carol Drive Facility

 

1960 - Dispatch Operations

1960 - Dispatch Operations

 

Radio Repair 1960

1960 - Radio Repair

 

Disaster Drill 1971

1971 - Disaster Drill

 

Manual Medical Dispatch

Manual Medical Dispatch

 

Current - Carol Drive Communications Center

Current - Carol Drive Communications Center

 

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