New Vickburg-Warren E-911 center to have updated technology

Published 5:47 pm Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The emergency dispatch center for Vicksburg and Warren County will move into new, high-tech headquarters next year, and officials hope gathering vital information will become easier.

The center’s technology will get the first major overhaul it’s had in a dozen years, with and the tab is expected to be about $800,000.

Enhanced radio and mapping equipment that will shore up other basic call-identifying functions, including pinpointing calls made from cell phones.

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“We will be able to triangulate between towers to find out where a person is,” said Michael Gaul, the E-911 Dispatch Center’s deputy director of operations.

With “land lines” or wired phones, dispatchers get immediate information about the address of the caller. Dispatch Center Director Geoffrey Greetham has estimated about 60 percent of all emergency calls are now made from cell phones.

If a caller doesn’t know where he or she is, dispatchers can’t know where to send help. The upgrade, required for all dispatch centers, will solve that problem.

Dispatchers ask questions that are part of a protocol followed by the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch. Now, the questions are listed on three bulky tablets at dispatcher workstations in a cramped room in the basement of the Warren County Courthouse. Dispatchers thumb through to find the right questions to guide them and callers through more than 100 specific emergencies

Gaul said it may be among the less-noticed changes, but the tablets will fade into history when dispatch operations move to new facilities.

“The entire system will be automated,” he said. “It will simply be a drop-down menu on their (computer) screens and will help us sift through information quicker.”

In July, Warren County supervisors awarded a bid to Grenada-based Jones-Zander, Ltd. to put together a plan to renovate a former printing building purchased from the city of Vicksburg in March for $230,000. Supervisors on Oct. 16 are expected to give the go-ahead for work to start.

A raised floor on the bottom tier will house emergency operations, with the top floor serving as storage space for the county’s touch-screen voting machines.