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Improvements slated to 911 in Jefferson County

February 06, 1998|By CLYDE FORD

Improvements slated to 911 in Jefferson County

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Plans for Jefferson County's enhanced 911 service will proceed now that the county commissioners have given their approval, the emergency services director said Friday.

"The reason for it all is seconds do save lives," said Darrell Penwell, director of Emergency Services for Jefferson County.

New software, computers and other equipment will help emergency dispatchers by automatically providing them with the address and phone number of 911 calls when they come in, Penwell said.

The telephone company can start billing Jefferson County a surcharge of $1.90 a month on their phone bill to help fund the program, Penwell said. The initial cost for the project would be $289,000.

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Portions of the plan could be in place by September while the entire county could have the enhanced 911 service within two years, Penwell said.

The commissioners unanimously approved the service Thursday night in a 4-0 vote following a public meeting earlier in the week on the issue.

Under the current 911 system, dispatchers have to get information from the caller such as their telephone number, their address and directions to their house.

In an emergency, it is not unusual for the caller to be rattled and to give the wrong address, phone number or directions, Penwell said.

With the new enhancements planned, the information would appear on the dispatcher's monitor as soon as the call came in, he said.

The system also can be used to log any information the residents would like dispatchers to have ready in case there was an emergency, Penwell said.

Information such as whether the person is on oxygen, has hazardous materials stored on their property, a vicious dog in the yard or that they are unable to speak, but will push the pound key on the telephone pad if they need an ambulance can shave off minutes of time, he said.

As part of the enhancements, rural addresses will be converted to a grid address system, he said.

This will make it easier for emergency crews to find the addresses and will also do away with road names in the county that have similar names, he said.

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