Director for Emergency Communications
Maria Jacques is Emergency Communications Director for the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
Steve Mitnick is Editor-in-Chief of Public Utilities Fortnightly and President of Lines Up, Inc.
PUF: What is your role at the PUC?
Maria Jacques: We're responsible for the implementation and maintenance of statewide 911 services. We maintain one system that serves all our 911 centers, our public safety answering points (PSAPs).
A PSAP is the function within a 911 communications center that answers the 911 call. In Maine, we have one contract that provides 911 service for the state. We interact with the PSAPs for technical issues that might arise from the equipment. We provide all the training required of a dispatcher to answer calls at a PSAP.
We train PSAP dispatchers on how to use the equipment and basic policies that we require for call handling. We also require emergency medical protocols, so we train them on that. That's for the typical medical call: you're having chest pains, or a heart attack, or your wife's having a baby and you're on your way to the hospital. Those calls come into 911 centers, and then the dispatchers guide people on how to care for themselves until help arrives.
PUF: Only a few PUCs have this 911 responsibility such as Colorado. How does that work?
Maria Jacques: To my knowledge there is one other state that houses their state office in the Commission, and that is in Colorado.