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Dutchess County Celebrates 20th Anniversary of 9-1-1
9-1-1 Communications Center dedicated to community leader D. Sandy Williams

Published: 3/21/2019

For More Information Contact:

Colleen Pillus: (845) 486-2000, cpillus@dutchessny.gov

2019 marks the 20th year since 9-1-1 was launched in Dutchess County. Last night, Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro, joined by County and local elected officials as well as members of local emergency response organizations, honored the work of longtime Dutchess County Volunteer Deputy Coordinator D. Sandy Williams of Rhinebeck, who was instrumental in the establishment of 9-1-1 in Dutchess County and has served the community for more than 40 years as a dedicated volunteer and business leader.

County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro said, “Today, we take for granted the seamless 9-1-1 system that allows you to dial three simple numbers and connect with a public safety dispatcher who can identify your location and dispatch the necessary fire, emergency medical service and law enforcement to assist you.    Building that system in Dutchess County took years of research and work and Sandy Williams was at the forefront of that effort. He has served Dutchess County with a tireless passion and extensive knowledge of emergency response best practices that have benefited us all. While no one ever wants to have to call 9-1-1, we are grateful to Sandy Williams that we have the ability to do so.”

9-1-1 was established in Dutchess County in 1999 to coordinate dispatch and radio communications across the numerous EMS, fire, and police agencies. Previously, all emergency calls needed a separate 7-digit phone number for EMS and fire calls, which were directed through “Alarm Headquarters” at Dutchess County Emergency Response.  Police calls were all made directly to individual local police agencies.  The new 9-1-1 System instantly provided a caller’s phone number and physical address, which resulted in a faster response time and better coordination of resources.  

Dutchess County’s 9-1-1 Communications Center, at 392 Creek Road in the Town of Hyde Park, was completed in 1998, with the 9-1-1 system going live on October 12, 1999. In the first year, more than 87,000 unique incidents were recorded. Today, the 9-1-1 Communications Center operates with 40 Public Safety Dispatchers and Supervisors who work in teams of nine over two shifts to meet the needs of residents and visitors alike, day or night. In 2018, the center answered 254,917 phone calls for assistance and dispatched 125,744 separate emergency incidents in Dutchess County for 35 fire departments and rescue squads, four EMS agencies and 12 law enforcement agencies.

The busiest day on record was August 28, 2011 during Tropical Storm Irene, where 4,031 emergency calls were fielded by public safety dispatchers who logged 2,265 unique incidents into the Computer Assisted Dispatch (CAD) system in one day.

The road to 9-1-1 in Dutchess County began several years prior to the first call going live in 1999 and Mr. Williams played a key role. A lifelong Dutchess County resident and graduate of Dutchess Community College, Mr.  Williams is the owner and President of Williams Lumber & Home Centers, a third-generation family owned business with eight locations in the Hudson Valley. Mr. Williams has a legacy of community involvement, earning numerous awards and accolades for his support of many local organizations, especially emergency response services.  Mr. Williams is a life member of the Rhinebeck Fire Department and previously served as Fire Chief. He also served for 46 years as Dutchess County Volunteer Deputy Fire Coordinator for the Bureau of Fire (now the Department of Emergency Response) before retiring in 2018.   As Deputy Fire Coordinator, he led and served on various committees responsible for the development of 9-1-1.

In 1994, he was appointed Chair of the 9-1-1 Citizens’ Advisory Committee by former Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus. The Committee was responsible for coordinating the development and organizational structure of 9-1-1 in Dutchess County including advising County elected officials on best practices for the consolidation of the numerous call centers throughout the county, policy development, and advising on the design/construction of the current 9-1-1 Communications Center. Following the launch in 1999, Mr. Williams has continued his service as Chair of the Dutchess County 9-1-1 Oversight Board, which makes recommendations to the Department of Emergency Response related to the dispatch operation of the 9-1-1 system.

In recognition of Mr. Williams’ decades of service and his leadership in the 9-1-1 development, a special dedication plaque now adorns the Dutchess County 9-1-1 Communications Center, which was unveiled last night to Mr. Williams, who was joined by his family and friends.

Dutchess County Commissioner of Emergency Response Dana Smith said, “Volunteers are the heart and soul of our community, particularly in Emergency Response, and Sandy Williams is one of the most dedicated volunteers I have ever known. Sandy’s lifelong, deep commitment to helping our community has helped us in our ongoing efforts to work alongside local agencies to deliver the best and most efficient emergency services to Dutchess County residents in their time of need.”