Jefferson County eyes enhanced 911

January 18, 1998

Jefferson County eyes enhanced 911


Staff Writer

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County Emergency Services Director Darrell Penwell imagines a near future where emergency dispatchers will have immediate, useful information as soon as a 911 call is answered.

With the right equipment and computer software, the dispatchers would know where the call is coming from, a computer screen would show a history of calls from the location, and a map would show the quickest route for an emergency vehicle to respond.

But before that occurs, the county needs a new address system and a telephone fee that would fund the enhanced 911 service.


Beginning May 1, a surcharge of $1.93 per month will be charged for each phone line to help finance the costs of improving the 911 service.

The initial cost for the project would be $289,000. A public meeting will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the Jefferson County Planning Commission meeting room to discuss the proposal for an enhanced 911 system, Penwell said.

For months, a committee has worked to come up with a draft ordinance for an enhanced 911 system and how much it would cost to determine the amount of the fee, Penwell said.

Roads without names will have to be named. Rural route postal addresses will have to be converted to street addresses. Roads that share the same name will have to be changed. Then there's also one road through Leetown that has five different names at different sections though it is actually the same road, he said.

There are about 1,600 named roads in Jefferson County and numerous unnamed roads in private subdivisions.

Just coming up with a new address system could take a couple of years, he said.

The plan also calls for an increase in the pay of dispatchers in Jefferson County, who currently are paid less than seven to 15 percent below what their counterparts make in nearby Virginia and Maryland, he said.

Jefferson County's 911 service began in October 1980. There's not been any telephone surcharge to cover the costs, he said.

One of the services an enhanced 911 system could offer is that firefighters and medics can have a machine printout the directions to a call as it is dispatched.

They would be able to tear out the printed directions at their station before leaving for the emergency.

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