SOUTH PLAINFIELD — The police captain of this Middlesex County borough says its current emergency response system is at the end of its life and not serviceable any longer.

So a sizable chunk of federal funding is arriving just in time.

"We have to make sure that we're prepared for the worst," said U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J. 6th District. "One of the most important things in that regard is to make sure that the equipment and the tools that are available to first responders are good and up to date."

Pallone and local officials gathered Friday to highlight $370,725 in homeland security funding, part of a federal spending bill signed last year, to replace equipment and upgrade South Plainfield's 911 center.

"During the initial call to 911, seconds save lives," said Peter Papa, police captain.

In 2022 alone, the emergency operations center received more than 68,000 calls. When the remnants of Ida barreled through in September 2021 and flooded portions of the town, the center received and routed over 500 calls in a three-day period.

"Our current EOC has not received a complete overhaul in the last 20 years. During that time, there have been significant technological advances in our field," Papa said.

With the upgrades, Papa said, their systems will be able to sustain single- or multiple-point failure and keep operations running, and the town will have the option of running systems remotely.

Also, he said, the upgrades pave the way for seamless integration into the next generation of 911 service delivery, including Text-to-911.

"The update and modernization of the South Plainfield emergency operations center will allow for timelier management of incoming 911 calls, and the immediate dispatch of emergency services," Papa said.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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