Maryland’s Best Kept Secret

Last month, a number of Montpelier residents enjoyed a tour of Prince George’s County new 9-1-1 call center in Bowie, Maryland. The center has new state-of-the-art facilities and electronics, and was funded by almost entirely by Motorola.

PGC 911 Call CenterThe tour was led by Bill McGown, the center’s operations manager. We learned that the center consists of approximately 190 staff who are responsible for taking and routing all 911 calls in Prince George’s County, as well as dispatching, technical support, radio systems, and personnel functions.  The staff coordinate dispatching for the 47 fire stations, 9 municipal police departments, and the sheriff’s department.

Between 4,000-5,000 calls are taken each day at the center, and all calls have been answered within an average of  6 seconds. The operator simultaneously views incoming date over 4 monitors, dispatches emergency services, and continues to gather information from the caller starting seconds after the call comes in. All of this information is passed to police officer, firefighters or EMTs while they are already en route to the emergency.

Each person who came on the tour was shown the following video on 9-1-1 services in Prince George’s County and then invited to sit with a call taker to listen in as 911 calls came in.


Emily Mason, who came on the tour, shared how impressed she was with the staff’s focus and professionalism in responding to callers:

“Being invited to sit with a call operator, having my own headset, listening to incoming 911 calls was amazing. The speed with which information comes through and is transmitted to the appropriate area of help is incredible. If a health issue is called in, the operator gets a list of questions on a computer screen to ask the caller. This immediately informs the ambulance of the nature and need when they arrive at a location.”

Tour of the 911 CenterBill McGown answered everyone’s questions about the do’s and don’t’s of using 9-1-1.

In short, if you need a police officer for a life-threatening emergency, call 9-1-1. If you need a police officer, but the emergency is not life threatening, call the non-emergency number at 301-352-1200. 

The Prince George’s County facility is one of only 5 accredited call centers of its nature in the world. Officials from many countries come to our area to witness and learn the latest in 911 technology. This accreditation requires the highest standards and can be lost if the standards are not maintained. Staff must undergo 240+ hours of classroom training and a similar degree of supervisor-observed training on the phones before taking calls on their own.

Richard Mason, chair of Montpelier’s security committee, calls it one of Maryland’s best kept secret and encouraged all Montpelier residents to take advantage of future tours given at the center.