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’s new computer-aided 911 dispatching system should be fully implemented by mid-August.

That’s according to the county’s interim 911 director, Vince Zagarri.

Zagarri outlined the tentative timetable for the county’s emergency communications management board (ECMB) Thursday.

County dispatchers and IT department employees have set up five test workstations for the new software system in the now-vacated juvenile detention center.

Larry Sikes, director of the county’s IT department, said those stations have been tested and are operational.

“What we’ve accomplished so far is to get everything ready. We could move those units over (to the county’s dispatching center) today,” Sikes said.

Eileen Stapp, dispatching supervisor for the county, said some minor issues still exist.

Stapp said mapping information from neighboring counties — needed for entities like New Haven Ambulance which serves portions of Gasconade County — plots correctly, but shows addresses being in Franklin County.

“We’ve definitely made major progress in the past two to five weeks,” she said. “Hopefully it will continue. I’m excited.”

Zagarri said in the coming weeks, employees from both departments will receive training on the software before moving the workstations to the county’s public safety answering point at the sheriff’s department in Union and going live with the new system.

“The good thing about our training time line is that, if we see issues arise, we have (the vendors and programmers) on site,” said Don Jones, a captain with the sheriff’s department.

After learning the system, employees will be tasked with entering data into Viper CAD, the dispatching program. Data will include information on what fire and EMS units to send to different types of emergency calls.

Other information needed includes contact information for businesses who might have automatic alarms and other issues firefighters may encounter, Sikes said.

That information will be in the new system before it goes live, he said.

Zagarri said data entry will take about two weeks and won’t occur until around the end of the month.

“During those two weeks, we want (officials from fire and EMS agencies serviced by the county) to come through and make sure their information is correct,” he said.

The county also will work with those agencies to set up paging, text-messaging and email services to get notifications to first responders in the best possible manner.

The county has been delayed for years in getting the dispatching system working.

New Haven Ambulance Chief Chris Miller, a member of the ECMB, said the issue has been getting the right people to look at the problems.

The county commission spent over $1 million on the system about four years ago and since then terminated the county’s former 911 and emergency management agency director.