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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

911- What's Your Emergency?

By Sid Riley

Nestled in the front west wing of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office facility is a command center which continually monitors and controls much of the emergency response and law enforcement activities of the entire county. It receives incoming calls for these services and issues response commands as needed. It controls the alert activities for the four county fire and rescue sub-stations (Sneads, Marianna, Alford, and Campbellton), ten county volunteer fire functions, two paid fire response functions, all on-duty JCSO Deputies, and at some part of the scheduled work week for all county municipal police departments.
It is a busy place. In 2008 the JCSO command center fielded 21,386 incoming 911 calls, with the total call volume being over three times that amount. The center also receives over 75 calls per day which require responses or presence of a Sheriff’s Deputy. The center is manned by at least two dispatchers on a twenty four hour per day, seven days per week basis, every day of the year. They are always there for you when you need them.
In the center of the command room there are three identical command consoles. Normally one of these is assigned to fire and rescue and 911 activities, another is involved with law enforcement work, and the third is a back up system in case of malfunction or overflow of work.
A computer displays a map of Jackson County and highlights the exact location of every incoming call to the center. A backup generator system guarantees power supply during storm or power failure conditions.
Also at each console is a communications system which is connected to each of the ten volunteer fire locations. When a fire unit’s location switch is activated in the command center, every pager for every individual volunteer fire fighter at that location sounds a response alert.
Additionally, when the national emergency alert system sounds that annoying buzzer alert on your radio at home or in your car…the voice which then comes on and announces the danger comes from a dispatcher at this console.
At the law enforcement console the dispatcher is in continual communication with the deputies on duty. If a deputy needs any support or information, the dispatcher is there to fill the need. The dispatcher can check for outstanding warrants, drivers license or vehicle license verification, trespass warnings, injunctions, or even stolen property identification data….all in a matter of seconds. The county is broken into four zones, with two deputies normally active within each zone.
There are several planned improvements for the systems. First, there are several "dead zones" in the county where radio communication is a problem. Improvements to the antennas and switching equipment are needed to correct this problem. Also, a system through which a dispatcher can be receiving information on the telephone and simultaneously type the data onto a computer which sends the texted message to the deputy’s vehicle device enables immediate dispatch. Also, this system is secure and can not be intercepted by scanners. Another GPS based system is available which shows the exact location and status of every vehicle on a "real time" basis.
The command center is manned by a staff of ten full time and three part time dispatchers. Without your awareness, they are making you and your family safer every day. We all owe them a hearty THANK YOU!!
JCSO Command Center Staff Members:
Lt. Tony Potter……………Supervisor
Sgt. Joanna Neel……………Supervisor
Mary Deason……………Dispatcher
Wanda Arnold……………Dispatcher
Vanessa Meadows……………Dispatcher
Joyce Collins……………Dispatcher
Rick Kerr……………Dispatcher
Krysta Divine……………Dispatcher
Amanda Holman……………Dispatcher
Melissa O’Neal……………Dispatcher
Part Time:
Jena Wesley……………Dispatcher
Dee Booth……………Dispatcher
Beverly Robbirds……………Dispatcher


Anonymous said...

I am sure that it was just and oversight that the Marianna Police Dept Dispatch was left out of this article. They also have some very dedicated and professional staff that should be recognized for their efforts to help keep the community safe.

Anonymous said...

I am very disappointed that the Marianna Police Dept is not also recognized for there hard work with the 911 Emergency. It is my understanding that calls within the city limits are transferred to the MPD. I am proud that we have the MPD to help us out in the city in our times of emergency, they do a good job. Thank you for letting me expressing my opinion