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North County Dispatch Joint Powers Authority, or North Comm, provides fire and medical emergency dispatch services to most city fire departments in North San Diego County and private security dispatch to the Rancho Santa Fe Patrol. These services include answering emergency and business phone calls, Emergency Medical Dispatch (see below), assigning and managing field units via Computer-Aided Dispatch, and mobile technical support. For more specifics on public interaction with the communications center, see Frequently Asked Questions.


Dispatching duties are shared by a staff of 16 full-time dispatchers and 3 Shift Supervisors who work 12 or 24 hour shift schedules. Additionally, there are 5 part time dispatchers to help cover sick leaves, vacations, and provide support during emergencies. Dispatch personnel are supported by IT Specialists, GIS Analyst and Technician, Finance Department, Operations Manager, Administrative Support Manager, and the Administrator.

North Comm routinely staffs five workstations with the ability to expand to eight workstations. These workstations are assigned functionally as call takers, radio dispatchers, and patrol dispatcher/back-up call taker. Each of these workstations can assume any of the other position’s functions and/or responsibilities instantaneously. Under normal operating conditions, a request for assistance is received at the call-taker position. The call-taker enters the pertinent information such as location, type of incident, callback number, and any supplemental information. The call-taker verifies the address, and upon verification, transfers the information by computer to the primary radio dispatcher.

The Central Square Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system provides the primary dispatcher a dynamic unit recommendation based on the closest available units that are suitable to the particular call type. If this recommendation complies with current policy, the dispatch is initiated. The unit’s station alarms and pagers are activated via CAD and the dispatch information is received on printers in the stations, personnel pagers and Mobile Data Computers (MDCs). The entire sequence, from picking up the phone to station alarm activation, can take place in as little as 12 seconds, with an average of 30 seconds. The tactical radio dispatcher is responsible for all activity needed to handle the working incidents. The primary duties of this position are to 1) answer all incident-related radio traffic, 2) monitor and acknowledge the incident-related status changes from field units.


North Comm uses a county-wide 800 MHz radio system based on trunking technology similar to that developed and used by the mobile phone industry. With this Regional Communications System (RCS), all public safety agencies in the county now operate on one common frequency band. 

North Comm personnel routinely monitor multiple radio channels and telephone lines using Windows-based computer consoles. There are eight such consoles, all of which are identical in function and can operate independently of each other.

The CAD system provides automated retrieval and processing of information related to address locations and closest equipment, as well as the appropriate equipment response by call type. The CAD system is necessary in order to maintain an acceptable speed and level of operation for the high call demand. The system has not replaced the dispatcher, but it has accelerated and augmented the dispatcher’s ability to process requests for services. Through progressive operational changes and advanced system upgrades, North Comm operates with optimum efficiency and quick response time to serve the people in contract cities and unincorporated areas of San Diego County.