The American Red Cross has consolidated its call centers nationwide into a "virtual center" with one of its four locations in San Diego.
Virtual centers deliver emergency messages to military personnel overseas from family members.
The San Diego/Imperial Counties chapter in Kearny Mesa opened Thursday morning with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. It is the only emergency communications center west of the Mississippi.
The new call center is expected to increase service to more than 60,000 military families per year and deliver more than 170,000 emergency communications messages by the end of 2012, making it a vital link between troops and their families.
Before the consolidation, Red Cross operated over 600 chapters with 28 Red Cross stations conducting emergency communications. The stations were connected to over 200 different phone numbers.
“It was very inefficient and more difficult for us to be responsive with those families,” said Charlie Fleishman, managing director of services to the armed forces for Red Cross.
“The red cross is a lot better equipped to respond quickly to those families when they have an emergency” Fleishman said. “That’s our goal – to get that message overseas to those service members.”
He said the call center will also be able to verify that the reported emergencies are actually emergencies, and not family members missing their loved ones and calling to attain contact.