Fulton County Sheriff Walter Dillinger, Fulton County 9-1-1 Coordinator David Keck and Fulton County Judge Charles Willett watch as AT&T Rep. Ron Caple tests the newly installed, enhanced 9-1-1 system April 16. Photo/Ninemire
After years of numerous failed attempts to find an affordable replacement for Fulton County's out dated 9-1-1 system, the search has ended.
April 18 Ron Caple with AT&T finished installing new, enhanced computer equipment for Fulton County's 9-1-1.
For some time the county has recognized the need for this equipment; however, the $130,000-plus cost has always stood in the way, said Fulton County Judge Charles Willett. The best part about the recently installed system -- it's free.
In November of 2006 Willett and 9-1-1 coordinator David Keck met with David Carter from AT&T and Carmen Bryant, administrator of the Commercial Mobile Radio Service Board. Keck said with Carter's and Bryant's assistance, they were able to organize a plan that worked for the area: the county acquired the new system on a 5-year lease that is being paid in full by the CMRS Board.
According to Bryant, before the installation of the new equipment, Fulton County was one of five counties in Arkansas that could not transmit wireless calls over their 9-1-1 network. Dispatchers had to rely on the individual for directions and would have to document each call manually.
The old system could only detect the location of land-line calls. The new equipment allows dispatchers to pinpoint the area that a cellular call comes from, Keck said. "Instead of having to manually search for the area on a map, the location will appear on a (computerized) map in front of them (dispatchers)," he said.
"Now, even with a bad connection, we can get within 100 feet (of the caller's location)," Willett said.
In addition to improving efficiency, the new equipment will also help Fulton County generate extra revenue, Keck said. "Since we couldn't detect them with the old system, the county hasn't been able to collect 9-1-1 cell phone charges. This will be more than enough new revenue to make money and offset any costs that might come up," he said.
"Land-line phones alone cannot support the system; the CMRS helps counties defray the cost of this much needed technology," Bryant said.
Willett and Keck said they were grateful for the help and are proud of the new system. "Really, Carmen Bryant and David Carter made this all possible," Willett said.
"I'm looking forward to it," Keck said. "This will save us and fellow departments from a lot of miscommunication."