Alcorn consults Lee County on new 911 office plans

By LENA MITCHELL / NEMS Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH – Alcorn County received some advice Monday on the consolidation of its E-911 office with dispatch for the sheriff’s office, city police and other agencies countywide at the new justice center scheduled to open early next year.
Officials with Lee County’s E-911 office have been advising Alcorn County about the consolidation and made a presentation to Alcorn County supervisors at Monday’s regular meeting.
There’s an important distinction between taking calls and dispatching, said Paul Harkins, Lee County E-911 director, and the key to making the system most effective is a setup that makes it easy for call-takers and dispatchers to communicate with each other and with supervisors.
Where service to landline telephones in homes was the standard when E-911 services were established more than a decade ago, Harkins said 65-75 percent of his department’s calls now come from cell phones.
The explosion of wireless service and voice-over-Internet makes it critical to have mapping and geographic information systems technology to pinpoint the location of an incoming call, he said.
Lee County dispatches for 10 law enforcement agencies, 18 fire departments and one emergency medical service, serving a population of about 81,000.
By contrast, Alcorn County E-911 includes the sheriff’s office, Corinth and Farmington police departments, Corinth Fire Department, 10 volunteer fire departments, Magnolia Regional Health Center emergency medical services and Air Evac Lifeteam. The county population was estimated to be about 35,800 in 2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Harkins recommended that the county execute formal interlocal agreements with the jurisdictions participating in the consolidated system so there is equitable cost-sharing by all.
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@djournal.com.