After David Keck, Fulton County's 9-1-1 coordinator, and Arthur Kraus of AK Associates looked at Sharp County's 9-1-1 setup, AK Associates recommended that Fulton County not enter into a joint operating agreement with Sharp County.
According to Keck, Kraus told him Sharp County does not have the hardware and software needed by the sheriff's office, police and fire departments. He advised Fulton County not to join Sharp County because of their missing components to correctly receive, view and track wireless and wireline 9-1-1 calls.
Around $1,200 a month can be saved for a proposed 9-1-1 enhanced system that Keck will propose to the quorum court at their next meeting on Jan. 14. Keck said because they will have their database iformation on site that is what the savings is based on.
According to Keck, AK Associates, a consulting firm from New Hampshire, was hired to assess the needs for Fulton County's emergency services.
Keck said he went to Orlando Fla., in August to attend a 9-1-1 convention.
On the last day of the convention the topic was "How to be a big league player when you're in the Little League." Keck said, "This is what I came for. I drove 1,200 miles for this."
He explained that Arthur Kraus from the consulting firm had the answers for what Fulton County needed.
Kraus' son died years earlier because 9-1-1 rescue workers went to the wrong address. In an emergency seconds count, Keck explained.
Because of his son's death, Kraus chooses two small companies a year and helps them with their emergency systems.
At the convention Keck approached the consultants to see if they would help design a system that would benefit Fulton County.
Kraus traveled to Fulton County on the week of Nov. 5 and looked at their current system. He came back the week of Nov. 26 to give his recommendations to Keck.
Kraus helped CenturyTel set up a network for 9-1-1 for Fulton County which can save the county thousands of dollars a year, Keck said.
CenturyTel has the equipment and the capabilities to do what Fulton needs. The enhanced system would include two computers which act as a server. The emergency information is logged into these computers. Incoming calls would be matched with a database on site.
According to Keck, this enhanced 9-1-1 service would replace the existing basic service. Emergency calls would be dispatched through the Fulton County Sheriff's Office. It will be the same process but it will include tools to do the job better, Keck explained.
AK Associates did recommend that Fulton County purchase and implement its own 9-1-1 system. They further suggested a mutual agreement be looked at with Sharp County to use each others PSAP equipment as a backup in case of an emergency.
If Keck's proposal is approved by the quorum court, Southwestern Bell will not be included in the plan. Keck said, "We're cutting out the big guys."
According to Keck, Kraus has been with 9-1-1 since its beginning. His consulting firm designed a cellular 9-1-1 system.In response to Fulton County being advised not to join Sharp County in a joint 9-1-1 venture, Marc Goings, chairman of Sharp County's 9-1-1 committee, said he thinks Sharp County's system is a lot safer than what Fulton County is proposing.
Goings said that he understands that every county that has tried to implement a 9-1-1 system with only a 5-percent surcharge on their telephone bill has either had to come up with alternate funding or has had to find other means to provide the service to the residents.
He explained that Sharp County looked at the same type of system that Fulton County is proposing but they were only able to find one county in Arkansas that used that system. Goings said that county was dissatisfied and was looking at alternate 9-1-1 equipment.
Goings added that it is a concern that the technical support is in the northeastern part of the country and could end up being very costly if a problem occurred.
He said it was his understanding that when Sharp County purchased their equipment it was state of the art equipment.
All that is necessary is a software upgrade to receive cellular 9-1-1 calls. According to Goings, Sharp County is in the process of getting the necessary upgrade.
He said that in the past, the money they received from the cellular phone surcharges would not of been available if their system did not have the capability of receiving the cellular 9-1-1 calls.