911 center up and running



January 29, 2010 - 12:00 AM

The 911 dispatch center moved from City Hall to the Allen County Critical Response Center, 510 N. State St., Thursday with only a minor glitch or two. A covey of technicians from AT&T, Advantage Computer Enterprises and Washington Communications, Pittsburg, helped.
Two dispatchers will work from “pods” outfitted with five computer monitors.
One registers emergency calls, displaying call data and with icons that link to responders.
The second gives enhanced map coordinates of where calls originate, including cell phones.
“If you call 911 from six miles north of Iola by cell phone, your exact location will pop up on the map,” AT&T specialist Gary Lempka said. “Then, as long as the call is active, the dispatcher will be able to follow your movement,” by periodically refreshing the screen.
The third terminal is used for maintaining and accessing records. The fourth is connected directly to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Crime Information Center in Clarksburg, W.V. The fifth controls radio communications.
A third pod is a available if needed.
“I’ve helped set up several communications centers and this is one of the nicest I’ve seen,” Lempka said.

THE NEW center gives dispatchers much more space for them to perform their jobs, Sheriff Tom Williams noted. Also, “We have plenty of room to expand if that becomes necessary,” he said.
Pam Beasley, the county’s Emergency Management director, has an office there. Her telephone number is 365-1477.
The center opened with nine dispatchers on staff. Director Angie Murphy, also certified as a dispatcher, will work regular business hours and may be reached at 365-1437.
The building is not fully accessible to the public — once inside the entry, identification and reason for being there must be provided. Visitors also are monitored by surveillance camera.

WHILE equipment was being installed Thursday, 911 service was maintained at the sheriff’s department.
“We had calls throughout the day and experienced no problems dealing with any of them,” Williams said.
Iola Police Department’s business telephone number remains active at 365-4960.