Idaho’s “best-kept secret” turns 40: StateComm story told in new videos

The Idaho State EMS Communication Center, known as “StateComm” and co-located with the Idaho State Police dispatch in Meridian, recently celebrated its 40th anniversary as a vital link for emergency services, state transportation and public health response communications serving multiple partner agencies and rural ambulance services across the state.

Idaho StateComm 40th anniversary tribute videos: 

Happy Anniversary Idaho StateComm

Idaho StateComm: History

Idaho StateComm: “Bridging” the Gap

Idaho StateComm: Calm Voice in the Night

MERIDIAN __ On a Saturday afternoon in the fall of 1977, in a small room at Saint Alphonsus Hospital in Boise, Idaho Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Chief Paul Anderson turned on a newly installed two-way radio system that communicated through a series of mountain-top microwave base stations scattered across all 83,000 square miles of Idaho.

“I just listened for the afternoon,” he says today. “For the first time, you could actually hear the EMS system in the whole state of Idaho operating on frequencies one and two. It was eye-opening and I thought, ‘This is going to work.’”

StateComm founder Paul Anderson (second from left), who served as Idaho EMS chief from 1973-1992, talks with current IDHW Bureau of Emergency Services and Preparedness Chief Wayne Denny (second from right) at the Oct.  19th open house to celebrate StateComm’s 40th anniversary.

It did and still does, 40 years later, a unique model of multi-agency collaboration and statewide communication that is unmatched in the nation. Anderson’s vision to create an integrated system of dispatching EMS providers beyond existing, isolated dispatch centers led to the creation of the Idaho State EMS Center, now co-located with Idaho State Police dispatch in Meridian, and known as “StateComm.”

Part of the Idaho Division of Public Health’s Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Preparedness, StateComm recently celebrated its 40th anniversary with an open house reception for individuals and organizations who contributed to its creation and continued success in serving – and saving the lives of – Idahoans, no matter where they are.

Representing one of the many multi-agency partnerships that have made StateComm a nationally recognized success, IDHW Director Russell Barron (left) and Idaho State Police Col. Kedrick Wills greeted guests at the Oct. 19 open house.

To chronicle StateComm’s history and provide the public with a glimpse into the operations of what has been called “Idaho’s best-kept secret,” EMS Communications Manager Michele Carreras and EMS Communications Specialist Ryan Harbert produced a series of 40th Anniversary Tribute Videos highlighting the history of StateComm, the EMS communication support services it provides, and interviews with StateComm founders and leaders of the many partner agencies who rely on StateComm around the clock to be no more than a mic key click away.

“You feel like you’re on a personal level with the dispatcher, it’s like having a guardian angel taking care of us,” says Donna Bennett of Grandview Ambulance, one of the 16 rural communities in Idaho for which StateComm is the primary EMS dispatch.

“They’re a great friendly voice in the middle of the night if something happens, they’re there for us, and I’m pretty happy about that,” says Travis Dodd, Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) foreman.

“You’re a reassuring voice. We know we can call you and we’ll get the calvary if we need it,” says Bill Nicholson, ITD avalanche technician.

During Idaho’s 2017 fiscal year (July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017), StateComm logged 57,592 incidents, ranging from EMS dispatch, flight following, hazardous materials incidents, rail incidents, weather, Red Flag fire warnings, and ITD incidents (highway closures, AMBER alerts, in/out of service tracking, maintenance dispatches, traffic control, crashes, etc.).

To learn more about StateComm’s creation and services, and how it supports the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s mission to promote and protect the health and safety of all Idahoans, watch these short videos:

Happy Anniversary Idaho StateComm

Idaho StateComm: History

Idaho StateComm: “Bridging” the Gap

Idaho StateComm: Calm Voice in the Night

(Left-to-right),  EMS Communication Specialist Kelley Rawlings, Idaho Division of Public Health Administrator Elke Shaw-Tulloch, EMS Communications Manager Michele Carreras, EMS Administrative Assistant Lori Henneman, EMS Communication Specialist Ryan Harbert and EMS Communications Supervisor Jeremy Elliott hosted visitors to the open house celebrating the 40th anniversary of StateComm Oct. 19.

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