After a close encounter with Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, the Cayman Islands Government recognized the need to establish a new communications system. A new trunked radio system was acquired which interconnected all emergency services. Once completed, the need for an
upgraded emergency telephone system was also recognized. According to an article appearing in 911 Magazine, at the time the Cayman Islands utilized four separate emergency numbers – 5-0-0 for fire, 5-0-5 for paramedics and both 9-9-9 and 9-1-1 for police. At the urging of the chief fire officer and in accordance with the new North American Numbering Plan, 9-1-1 was chosen as the single emergency number.
The establishment of a new 9-1-1 system fell upon the Ministry of Agriculture, Environment, Communications and Works. Minister John McLean contacted APCO – the Association of Public-safety Communications Officials, International -- to ask for a recommendation of someone to bring 9-1-1 to a reality. APCO instructor David Mackenzie, a former Deputy Fire Chief with the U.S. Air Force had experience installing 9-1-1 systems on military bases in Korea. Mackenzie was hired in April 1995 as 9-1-1 Project Manager to install a state-of-the art 9-1-1 emergency telecommunications system.
In June 1996, 15 telecommunicators were hired and trained using the APCO curriculum that is still fundamentally in use today. The new 9-1-1 staff assisted the Lands and Survey department with street naming and addressing in order that 9-1-1 would be a functional system. 9-1-1 telecommunicators went door-to-door instructing the public on the new addressing scheme. Juliet Gooding, who was a student in that first class of telecommunicators, was promoted as the first Emergency Communications Manager. The new 9-1-1 system and communications centre was inaugurated on 16 September, 1996.
Although original plans called for another Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP also known as an emergency communications centre) in Cayman Brac, those plans were cancelled. The Cayman Islands Public Safety Communications Centre (CIPSCC) handles emergencies for all three islands – Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman. The Fire Service maintains a secondary PSAP at the Airport which dispatches both domestic and airport fire equipment. 9-1-1 calls for fire-related incidents are processed by CIPSCC but the information is relayed to the secondary PSAP by radio or phone.
CIPSCC was located in the George Town Police Station. As Hurricane Ivan approached, the decision was made to evacuate the emergency communications centre from the police station and move it temporarily into the new Cable and Wireless (now LIME©) administrative building. The Communications Centre was then re-located to its present home in a multi-story building constructed to withstand Category 5 storms.
In 2008, the new Electronic Monitoring function was created by Government in preparation for the implementation of the Alternative Sentencing Law. Since Electronic Monitoring also required a robust 24/7/365 call centre, it was decided to co-locate the Cayman Islands Electronic Monitoring Centre (CIEMC) with the Public Safety Communications Centre. In 2011, the National CCTV Programme started coming on line with the first of approximately 400 CCTV cameras to be located throughout all three islands. The Electronic Monitoring Centre will monitor both selected offenders and public surveillance CCTV.
Upon Juliette Gooding’s leaving in 2008, Brent Finster became the second Emergency Communications Manager. Finster has 33 years of experience in public safety and managed two communications centres in the United States before coming to the Cayman Islands.
In 2011, the Department’s name was changed from Emergency Communications & Electronic Monitoring to the Department of Public Safety Communications (DPSC).
Today, the staff consists of 11 Telecommunicators, 4 Communications Supervisors, 1 Electronic Monitoring Supervisor, 4 Electronic Monitoring Officers, 1 Public Safety Systems Administrator, 2 Assistant Directors, and a Director.
Last Updated 2014-02-12