The County’s E911 system is not working the way it should right now.
Sheriff Kerry Lee told County Commissioners April 7, while the 911 service is still working, the enhanced portion is not, meaning when a person makes a 911 call to the dispatch center, their name, number and location does not come up on the screen for easy reference. They must verbally give that to the dispatcher, if possible.
He said the system’s primary server failed April 1 and dispatch was not able to receive any 911 calls for several days, which Lee admitted did create a few problems, “because the 911 line was ringing busy, however, callers were able to reach the regular administrative number at the Sheriff’s department and emergency medical services were sent out.”
Lee said at present they are working with the old backup server.
He said what they are doing now is using to a previous method with extra phones in the dispatch center that are just for 911 calls. The dispatcher will have two sets of phones at the desk, one set for administrative calls and another set for 911 calls. “They have a different ring tone, so we know which is which,” he said.
IT Technician Tracy Lee said the present system is able to distinguish between a cell phone and a land line, but does not display the name, number or location of the caller. “In going forward,” he said, “we plan on implementing Phase II, which allows the full E911 service for cell phone as well as land line calls.” The Phase I system does not pinpoint cell phone calls.
“It is important we have Phase II,” said Sheriff Lee, “because even though our county population may be small, we don’t know the exact location where everybody lives or where they may be at the time they are calling.”
Tracy Lee said he is able to get the necessary equipment needed to make the system work right now for about $5,000, and hopes to have it all in place in 10-12 days.
Sheriff Lee said, “But that does not include a new server and computers in the dispatch center. It would only get us up and running with the old equipment we have as the base,” and hopes to be able to purchase the needed equipment from his own current budget.
He also said he wants to talk further with Commissioners about funding the 911 system for the future to replace both the primary and backup server.
Commissioners said they believed public safety is a No. 1 priority and would put the discussion in their budget process, which is underway at this time.
Lee told Commissioners, “I think we can get through with what we have now until July 1.”