Elected officials, first responders and members of Westcomm celebrate the groundbreaking ceremony.
Reminder Publishing photo by Tyler Garnet

CHICOPEE — Elected officials, first responders and more gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony of a new regional emergency communications center to be built at the old Salter College site at 645 Shawninigan Dr.

The new center is set to enhance and revolutionize the emergency response capabilities for the towns and cities it currently serves and allow more room for other communities to join.

Westcomm Regional Dispatch currently provides emergency communication services for Chicopee, Longmeadow, Monson, East Longmeadow, Ware and the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department.

Westcomm Executive Director Erin Hastings said, “We stand on a new era of emergency response. The new facility we are embarking upon will be more than just bricks and mortar. It will be a beacon of hope and safety and equipped with cutting edge technology and expanded capacity to serve not only our current communities but also our potential ones.”

The new center is scheduled to be completed in May 2025.

It will feature advanced equipment and systems designed to streamline communication processes and improve response times during critical situations.

“This means more lives saved, more emergencies averted and more families kept safe,” Hastings said.

Additionally, the facility is said to provide ample space for training, collaboration and future expansion to accommodate the needs of growing communities.

Chicopee Mayor John Vieau discussed how this new facility will also help make room at the public safety complex in Chicopee, where the current dispatch center is located at 110 Church St.

“When you regionalize dispatch, what it’s done for Chicopee is it’s allowed us to put more police officers and more firefighter out there in service. We cannot wait for this project to be completed so we can get a little extra space at the public safety complex, especially on the police side.”

The current regional dispatch center can accommodate nine dispatchers, but this new building will be able to accommodate 27.

Westcomm went live in December 2019 by dispatching for Chicopee and Longmeadow. In July 2020, Westcomm grew to include dispatch for East Longmeadow and Monson before Ware joined in December 2021. In July 2023, Westcomm began contract dispatching for the Hampden County Sheriff’s Office specialty units.

Vieau added, “If you are not a regional member, consider it. This is professional dispatch at its best. Our first response is not much more efficient and certainly saving lives.”

The new facility was made possible through funding from the State 911 Department.

Massachusetts State 911 Department Deputy Executive Director Norm Fournier further discussed how this facility will help with safety of communities.

He said, “This effort has allowed more first responders to be in the field because they are no longer answering the phone. They also have been able to reduce the amount times someone has to be transferred when they call 911. That saves a ton of time and allows first responders to get out to the field faster and the bottom line is that provides for a better level of outcome.”

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