A Day in the Life: Command Center Service Specialist
The NTTA is made up of more than 650 employees and 12 key departments who contribute to the overall success of the NTTA. The “Day in the Life” series takes a look at a variety of jobs and/or departments within the Authority to allow motorists a glimpse into a typical day at the NTTA.
The NTTA’s Command Center, located at the Coit Road Toll Plaza on the President George Bush Turnpike, serves as the Authority’s eyes and ears for the entire network of more than 825 mainlane miles. The Command Center, which resembles a smaller scale NASA control center, is responsible for monitoring the roadways for potential issues and dispatching Roadway Customer Service or the DPS troopers when necessary.
Command Center Service Specialist Rachel Martinez has been on the job for seven and a half months and works the deep night shift from 10 p.m. – 6 a.m. Her duties include monitoring the roadways via cameras and calls, radio dispatching appropriate personnel (DPS, Roadway Customer Service, or local agency for police, fire, or Emergency Medical Services), submitting requests through appropriate databases for DPS and monitoring, and answering alarms for all roadways and NTTA facilities.
There are multiple stations within the Command Center, so depending on where Martinez is stationed her days are always different.
“I love that every day is different. We may do the same job, but something is always different," Martinez said.
When she’s stationed at the radio, she works her first two hours dispatching troopers to accidents or any call where a trooper is needed. Troopers also will call in to her to report their traffic stops. Martinez also runs any requests for information on drivers' licenses or a license plate that troopers may have.
After two hours she then moves to phones where she’ll answer any incoming calls to the Command Center. She also responds to any wrong-way driver alarms at this station. Any calls received are entered into the Authority’s computer-aided dispatch system, so appropriate personnel can be dispatched.
For the next two hours, Martinez will work the Roadway Customer Service radio. At this station, Roadway Customer Service is dispatched to assist motorists or will call in to report that they’ve found a vehicle in need of assistance.
The last two hours, Martinez works the alarm station where she answers any incoming alarm for the roadway or an NTTA facility. The Command Center’s alarm system detects any stopped objects or vehicles on the NTTA System and sends an alert to the center. With dozens of cameras throughout the System, Martinez can locate the problem and dispatch appropriate personnel. The Command Center also responds to alarms at any NTTA facility. Alarms can range from someone driving through a parking lot to a power outage.
Martinez loves the teamwork necessary to get the job done. “Everybody on the shift is doing camera checks at all times to make sure there are no problems on any of the roadways. By no means is our job a one-person job; you need everybody doing their share so it runs smoothly in the Command Center,” she says.
Because of the schedule demands and nature of the job, Martinez said a job at the Command Center isn’t for everyone. “This position is for a certain breed of people. You must be able to multi-task very well and be able to roll with whatever is thrown at you. Everything can change in a second and you have to be prepared no matter what that might be,” she said.
With such a potentially stressful job, Martinez says she never takes her experiences at work home, but chooses instead to unwind by spending quality time with her husband and three and a half year old son.
Are you ready to apply your leadership, teamwork and creativity talents as a member of a dynamic and growing team? The NTTA is looking for diverse, qualified individuals who strive for excellence. Visit www.ntta.org to learn more and get your career in motion at the NTTA.