KANE COUNTY HISTORY: Celebrating The 50th Anniversary of 9-1-1

KANE COUNTY HISTORY: Celebrating The 50th Anniversary of 9-1-1

  • Editor’s Note: This article is part of a weekly series written by representatives of Kane County historical societies and history museums. Today’s article was submitted by Terry Emma, executive director of the Geneva History Museum.

In 1976, Geneva, Batavia and St. Charles combined their city’s public safety communication centers into one cooperative dispatching center, known as Tri-Com. It was the first consolidated communication center in the nation to use the new 9-1-1 system.

Originally located in the Geneva Public Safety Building at 15 South First St. for nearly three decades, Tri-Com operations moved to 3823 Karl Madsen Drive, St. Charles in May of 2005. The new building currently houses state-of-the-art telephone, radio and computer-aided dispatch equipment at six console positions. Squad computer networks for the Tri-Cities are also maintained by Tri-Com.

News photo showing the cooperation of Illinois Bell Telephone and the Tri-Cities police, fire and EMS services. (CREDIT: Geneva History Museum)

In March 2016, the Tri-Com Central Dispatch system launched the capability to receive texts to 9-1-1.

The introduction of this new technology came with a caveat: “This service should ONLY be used as a last resort!!!”

The texting option should only be used when making a voice call is not possible due to a speech or hearing impairment or if the caller’s physical safety would be in jeopardy if they made a traditional 9-1-1 call.

Tri-Com also is the Division XIII headquarters of the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System, which began in the late 1960s. This is a statewide response system for fire, EMS and specialized incident operational teams. The system defines a resource response plan to any location within the state.

Illinois resources such as the State Police, Department of Transportation and numerous other state assets are able to mobilize under the direction of the Governor in response to a disaster.

In honor of the 42nd anniversary of Tri-Com, the Geneva History Museum’s multi-jurisdictional emergency operations center, and the 50th anniversary of 9-1-1 in the U.S., join retired Tri-Com director, Jerry Bleck, at noon Tuesday, May 8, to learn the history of Geneva’s public safety communications.

This is a Brown Bag program at the Geneva History Museum, 113 S. Third Street, Geneva.  Register at GenevaHistoryMuseum.org or call 630-232-4951.

  • FEATURE PHOTO CAPTION: Jerry Bleck looking over the Tri-Com Central Dispatch console

About The Geneva History Museum

The Geneva History Museum is a non-profit organization started in 1943 by volunteers in the community that saw a need to preserve the town’s history. Today the museum offers multiple award-winning exhibits, educational programs, cutting-edge research, and dedicated volunteers, continue to make the Geneva History Museum a source of great community pride.

Read The Kane County History Series!