The Contra Costa Regional Fire/EMS Communications Center, also known as CCRFCC, is staffed with 18 full time dispatchers on 24 hour shifts and handles around 160,000 calls per year, including 65,000 911 calls. The CCRFCC dispatches calls for 7 fire agencies including Contra Costa County, Rodeo/Hercules, Pinole, Crockett, Moraga/Orinda, East Contra Costa and unincorporated Richmond, San Pablo and El Cerrito. The CCRFCC is also the Operational Area Coordinator for Contra Costa County, meaning that it is the requesting point for mutual aid, both when the CCRFCC makes a request and when the CCRFCC receives requests from the California Office of Emergency Services. Mutual aid is an agreement between two different fire agencies that agree to assist each by sending engines and firefighters when one agency makes a request for assistance. A good example of mutual aid is when the Oakland Fire Department requested assistance for more fire engines and firefighters from local fire agencies during the 1991 Oakland Hills Firestorm.
The CCRFCC is a secondary public safety answering point or PSAP, meaning that 911 calls are routed through a local law enforcement agency before being transferred to the CCRFCC. When 911 is dialed from a regular phone, the CCRFCC receives information from the caller such as the phone number and address of the emergency. However, when dialing 911 from a cellular phone or a computer using VOIP, the CCRFCC does not receive an address automatically on their computer screen but rather has to ask the 911 caller for it. The increase of cellular phones and VOIP calls has made getting the correct responses to the correct locations much more difficult. By not having the correct address of an emergency, there may be a delay in getting the appropriate response from the fire department and/or ambulance agency to the correct location.
CCRFCC dispatchers are certified Emergency Medical Dispatchers (EMD's). Dispatchers give medical instructions to callers and prioritize calls according to the National Academy of Emergency Medical Dispatcher (NAEMD) and Contra Costa County medical protocols. This runs the gamut of basic medical advice, to CPR instructions, or assisting with child delivery. Dispatchers receive continuing education and quality improvement review throughout the year, and must re-certify in CPR every 2 years.
CCRFCC dispatchers are also qualified to respond out on major fires in a variety of overhead positions to help support a large scale incident. Several dispatchers have gone out to assist at major fires when local staffing allows. Dispatchers also participate in ongoing department training for various types of calls and drills.