Check Out New System

Officials from several Franklin County fire and EMS districts Thursday checked out the county’s new 911 computer-aided dispatching system set up on a temporary workstation in the county’s old juvenile detention center. The system has been delayed for several years as the county worked through a number of programming and integration issues, but is expected to be online by mid-August.

Franklin County dispatchers are still working on implementing a new 911 computer-aided dispatching system that was first purchased several years ago, but officials expressed optimism this week as training on the system continues.

Vince Zagarri, interim county 911 director, said administrative training was completed last month.

“Our people are going through the technology issues and getting them resolved,” Zagarri said this week.

Those issues are being addressed directly between the county and personnel with Tiburon, the company that made the program.

Eileen Stapp, communications commander for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, said she has been testing text messaging and email alerts which can be sent out instantly to police, fire and ambulance crews as a call is dispatched.

The sheriff’s department handles and oversees dispatching for itself as well as numerous emergency response agencies throughout the county.

“I am really excited about the (computer-aided dispatching system),” Stapp said. “As we get more into it, the more I learn about it, the more comfortable I feel.

“We have hit some bumps that will and have set the time line back,” she said, “but there’s no show-stoppers, not by any stretch of the imagination.”

Four workstations are set up for training dispatchers in the old juvenile detention facility in Downtown Union.

Once dispatchers are fully trained on the system and data is configured, the new system will go live.

Zagarri said a meeting is scheduled for Aug. 17 with fire chiefs served by the county’s dispatching facility to discuss data integration and configuration.

The date when the new system will be online has been a moving target.

Earlier this year, county officials said the project would be completed by May. As May elapsed, the date was pushed back to July.

In June, the date was pushed back to August.

Chris Miller, New Haven Ambulance chief and a member of the county’s emergency management communications board, asked earlier this year when the date would stop moving.

The 911 system purchased from CenturyLink several years ago came with a price tag of over $1 million.

Despite the lengthy delays, county commissioners have praised CenturyLink for working “side-by-side with county employees in a diligent manner to help us resolve all challenges and issues.”