911 system adapting to changes
By Stephanie Johns
Morgan County Fire Chief Mark Melvin updated the Madison-Morgan 911 Advisory Board on several items, from radio equipment changes to new employees at the 911 Center, at its November meeting.
Melvin said everyone is “pretty much online” regarding the radio narrow-banding. One or two more portable radios still have to be swapped over. They hope to swap those by Nov. 15.
The federal government cut radio frequencies in half to create more. Some county and city equipment was unable to accept these “half frequencies,” hence the swap.
Morgan County EMS Director Huey Atkins noted their deadline for switching the radios over is Dec. 31. Having all of them switched earlier will give them time to ensure they work properly.
The radio system consultant should provide Melvin with an update on Nov. 13. The final report should be available by the end of January.
Five communications officers have completed their initial training on the Power Phone Total Response Call Handling System.
Atkins asked who gets dispatched first to a 911 call. He shared fire and law enforcement have been dispatched to medical calls and when EMS is dispatched, they do not always receive the medical history the other groups received.
Melvin said he will ask dispatchers to share that information and will work to enhance communications.
Their new voice recorder has been ordered. It will allow them to add more channels in future. It should be up and running within a week.
In response to a complaint about background noise at the 911 Center, they tried out a wireless headset for about two weeks. The operators said they had less feedback. They will need three recording systems and about 15 headsets at a cost of $3,000. This will be presented to the board in January.
A part-time and a full-time employee started at the center last week. They should be certified in January or February, Melvin said. They work evenings and weekends now. As part of their training they will ride with firefighters and law enforcement officers.
Atkins suggested scheduling time for EMS workers to visit the communications center.
Capt. Christopher Bish of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office requested lookout notices be broadcast for each shift instead of just once when the announcement comes in.
Melvin said there was a question about a towing company not zoned for vehicle storage.
Gwen Ruark, Morgan County Emergency Management Agency Director, said they have nothing about minimum standards for impound lots.
Atkins said they need a process to ensure they do not get into a mess.
Madison City Manager David Nunn said both the sheriff’s office and the police should have input. He added a combination of city and county zoning would ensure they did not have a conflict in the 911 Advisory Board standards. He also asked them to be mindful of how new standards will impact existing towing companies.
Melvin said he would look at the yards of the existing towing companies: Bo’s Wrecker Service, Morris Wrecker and Truck Repair, Inc., and Youngblood Ford.
Morgan County Manager Michael Lamar suggested they put this on the agenda for next month. Atkins agreed that at their next meeting they could identify people to serve on that committee.
Atkins shared the ambulances now have cameras with audio in them that record 24/7 and re-record over themselves every 36 hours. He noted one camera looks out the front window and another looks toward the back windows but does not capture the patient in the back.
He said their insurance carrier offered them the cameras in exchange for staying with them four more years. He estimated retail value of the cameras between $400 and $500 per unit.
Printed in the November 15, 2012 edition