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December 24, 2013

McCreary 911 moving forward

New system capable of further integration with first responders

WHITLEY CITY —   Less than a month online, McCreary County’s enhanced 911 system is already getting a workout.

    Local media were allowed a first-hand look behind the scenes last Tuesday with EMS/911 Director Jimmy Barnett, Assistant Director Willie Duncan, McCreary County Judge-Executive Doug Stephens and Deputy Judge Andrew Powell.

    E-911 is actually comprised of two systems — an Interact CAD (computer aided dispatch) which keeps call histories and the new AT&T Positron VIPER system which includes the Google Earth mapping capabilities so important to pinpointing location.

    “We’re blessed to have the Interact system,” Duncan said. “It’s the same as used by Metro Atlanta dispatchers.”

    With information pulled from the caller, a dispatcher can enter a case history into the CAD. While the emergency responder (for example, law enforcement) can’t change what 911 enters, they can add followup information.

    Barnett added that dispatchers also keep a notebook, which can be used if for some reason the CAD goes down.

    “It’s their burden to make sure the information is in the computer,” Powell noted. “The more information they have, the better prepared responders can be.”

    For landlines, the new VIPER system includes resident information as well as a physical description of each structure. With cell phones, it uses local towers to determine the caller’s position within 8-10 seconds and can even track a moving target as the system refreshes. Latitude and longitude coordinates further assist in directing emergency personnel.

    The department also has a state-of-the-art digital recording system which registers all 911 calls as well as radio traffic.

    While the system’s mapping database has come along way, it is not without some gaps. Nearly 600 residents don’t have a landline at all, and are urged to contact McCreary 911 at the administrative number (376-9117) to obtain or confirm their physical address. Another 300 obtain phone services through Access Cable, which uses VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) technology which is not yet routed through the system. Powell said the company is working with the county and a national database service to solve the issue as quickly as possible.

    Barnett added that reporting renovations (such as painting a home a new color) or tenant updates for property owners can only help the system run smoother. Mapping will remain an ongoing process as structures are built or destroyed and road construction (such as new KY 92) changes the landscape. Posting house numbers and reporting missing or vandalized road signs will also help.

    “If we all work together, 911 will work better,” Barnett said.

    The department, which handles more than 12,000 calls per year, is also looking ahead to further improve. The county hopes to get assistance from the Commercial Mobile Radio Services state board in replacing the current CAD, which dates back to 2006. Barnett and Duncan are currently working to obtain quotes.

    The county is also investigating software implementation which would allow emergency responders to receive map data in their vehicles. While the 911 center serves as a hub coordinating all agencies, for example, ambulances would only have access to ambulance dispatching. The same would be true for fire or law enforcement.

    Barnett added that the department will soon begin testing with the Whitley City Volunteer Fire Department to dispatch not only via radio but also through smart phones.

    Over the coming year, four dispatchers will receive five weeks of training through the police academy at Richmond in accordance with state regulations.

    “The next class starts in the spring,” Barnett said. “By the end of 2014, all of our full-time employees will be state certified dispatchers.”

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