Friday, January 15, 2010

911 System...

Residents not using 911 like they should

POSTED: January 12, 2010

Liverpool Township Fire Chief Mike Bahen said Monday that area residents are not using 911 for emergency phone calls like they should. But, that could be because residents are not even aware that they have the option.
Fire and police department officials discussed the matter at the Liverpool Township board of trustee meeting Monday. Board member Karl Kontnier asked Bahen if the township was still using the 911 system.
Bahen replied that residents are using the system but not as often as the fire department would like. "All of the phone calls still come in on the emergency line. Very seldom do we get a 911 call. We thought everybody could use 911 but it just ain't happening. It's a lot easier if they use it," he said.
Kontnier briefly mentioned a situation in which he knew of a woman who had been trying to contact an emergency department but couldn't remember the telephone number. When asked why she didn't call 911, she said she didn't know that the area had the system.
But residents not knowing that the system can be used in the area isn't the only problem the township is facing with 911. Liverpool Township Police Lieutenant John Bahen informed the board that the 911 mapping system is still "screwed up."
The system was causing problems all last year because it failed to provide clear maps to emergency personnel responding to calls. But Mike Bahen pointed out that the county is currently in the process of getting the system fixed. In October, upon the recommendation of 911 Director Robert Emmons, the 911 committee decided to change companies. Verizon was originally contracted for the system, but because of the mapping problems, Emmons recommended that the county hire DDTI to provide mapping software after seeing how it worked at the Muskingum County Sheriff's Office.
According to Emmons, the 911 committee is working with DDTI to install a trial version of the mapping software on one of the computers at the Lisbon location this month. Emmons added that since hiring DDTI in October the company has been taking the county's mapping information and importing it into their mapping system in preparation for installation on one of the computers.
Officials also briefly discussed how 911 calls made on cellular phones are directed to the nearest strongest cell phone tower. Trustee Keith Burke pointed out that a LaCroft resident making a 911 call may have a cell phone tower in West Virginia pick up the call.
"Cell phone 911 calls go to the nearest and strongest towers regardless of who your service provider is," Emmons explained. "It is very possible that a call could jump over the river and pick up a tower in Chester, or vice versa. We receive many calls from Northern West Virginia that we send back to Hancock County because they pick up an East Liverpool tower. That will improve as we get full cell phone 911 capability; right now we just have basic 911 capability for cell phones."
But redirecting emergency phone calls is as simple as a one-button transfer, he said.

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