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Answering the call: Armstrong 911 now realized

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Friday, March 15, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

In its early days, what is now Armstrong 911 was simply known to fire, police and ambulance personnel as EOC, or the Emergency Operating Center.

It operated with a small cadre of dedicated staff from a room off the basement hallway of the Armstrong County Courthouse in a space just barely larger than a broom closet.

It was a dark, windowless little hole. But the dispatchers did their important work with aplomb.

Last week the center, which in more recent years was on the ground floor of the Courthouse Annex in Kittanning, moved to its own building on the county's Armsdale property in Rayburn. Now the dispatchers work with state-of-the-art equipment. And eventually, the center will be connected with 13 counties and Pittsburgh, adding depth to the system.

The upgraded center is a credit to county commissioners, Public Safety Director Randy Brozenick and 911 Coordinator Ron Baustert. Credit as well goes to the volunteers who in the early years recognized just how vital centralized dispatching would become.

Like organizations such as HAVIN (which helps victims of domestic violence and sexual assault) and ARC Manor (which aids and counsels alcohol and drug abusers), the 911 center has evolved from something nice to have to something necessary.

It is a tribute to those in the county with foresight and a sense of the value of cooperation.

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