Cleveland-Bradley County 911 has been in a consolidated existence since 1997, but actual work to bring the agency’s emergency and non-emergency communications together started about two years before.
911 celebrated a 10-year anniversary in 2007.
At that time, Joe Wilson, director of the 911 Center said, “I had no office, no employees, no phone and no idea what I was getting into.”
Wilson and his staff know what they have achieved over the past decade and also look toward the future in a complex and ever-changing world of technology and the way people communicate.
Though first responses in emergencies are handled by police, sheriff, medical or fire and rescue personnel, in about all cases, the first call for help goes to 911 and its highly trained dispatchers and support system.
Electronically and highly tech-driven, Bradley County’s 911 system is one of the leaders in the state as far as virtually every aspect of technology and training and is also a model for other 911 agencies.
“Today, 911 has to be available across a broad spectrum of technology. It is a consumer driven market which encompasses communications tools such as I-pad, texting, e-mail and other hardware and applications in which people communicate and we will have to get on board in order to take calls for help through these means,” Wilson said.
“These are new and ever-changing ways people will be able to reach out,” he said.
A very popular means of public safety is being built into and used by automakers.
OnStar is one of the leaders in what is known as “Telematics.”
According to Wilson, OnStar provides pre-arrival instruction in emergency dispatch. In other words, highly-trained dispatchers begin emergency aid to victims of crashes or other incidents when OnStar is initiated, in sometimes automatically when a vehicle equipped with OnStar is involved in a crash.
That system begins a series of events working toward emergency response, notifying dispatchers that aid is needed and providing critical information, both data collected by on-board computers and statements from the victims.
Looking toward the future, “We will have capabilities of receiving pictures or video of criminal acts recorded by security or personal cameras and will have the ability to dispatch those immediately to patrol officers working to solve crime,” Wilson said.
“We will also be able to include video instruction to a caller’s cell phone regarding lifesaving instruction such as CPR,” he said.
“The ever-changing technology is exciting and 911 can provide a much better quality of service,” Wilson said.
Cleveland-Bradley 911 employs 26 dispatchers, three call takers and a support staff of six people.
Of approximately 250,000 calls yearly, 170,000 are dispatched to local emergency services, animal control and other agencies.
“So far, that is up 23 percent from 2009,” Wilson said.
Other changes at 911 are the new 800 mhz system which seamlessly links communications to other agents and districts and a completely revamped radio system, along with the addition of new towers.
Wilson and his crew are continuing to work on a totally separate backup facility in the event of a catastrophic event which could strike the existing center.
Redundancy in emergency communications is one of his key goals.
“There are some towns which don’t even have 911,” he said.
Wilson feels fortunate to have a communications board and government combined to achieve the goals of communications and the first agency to be reached during an emergency.