The service went “live” on Thursday, according to Director Doug Lavender. The system itself has been technically operational for the past two weeks, but dispatchers and emergency personnel have been training in it use. Fortunately, nobody had called the number as of midday on its first day of business, but Lavender said five calls have come in since the equipment itself became operational two weeks ago.
The service is operating from the Emergency Medical Services building on Mulberry Heights. Dispatchers from EMS will take 911 calls and either dispatch directly or transfer the calls to the appropriate responding agency, such as a village police department. Lavender said last month additional staff will be required to operate the system.
Equipment costs, including maintenance, and training, are funded from a telephone line monthly charge of 50 cents voters approved nearly three years ago. The system will also receive funding through a monthly fee charged cellular telephone customers. That will help finance E-911 services, which use cell phone signals to locate callers.
Lavender announced the system’s start-up at Thursday afternoon’s regular meeting of Meigs County Commissioners. President Mick Davenport said it was “very, very good news,” and commended Lavender and Ed Werry of the tax map office for their hard work, particularly in the painstaking detailed task of compiling an address database that is accurate and clear to dispatchers and responders.
Meigs County’s rural road system, and even village streets, can create snags. For example, Pomeroy has a Court Street, and Sutton Township has “Court Street Road.” There are also multiple roads sharing one name. It took the two men months to establish the database, which will now be updated on a regular basis through the county’s contract with Verizon.
Public education is now underway. Lavender said he has visited with one local fire department, and will be at the Racine Party in the Park this weekend to demonstrate how the system works. He will be visiting schools once educational materials arrive for distribution, and he will meet with any group to educate the public.