homepage logo

On track to communications system upgrade

By Staff | Jan 19, 2008

ESTHERVILLE–Members of the Emmet County E911 Board unanimously approved an agreement in concept for a funding mechanism to upgrade the county’s radio communications system on Thursday.

The proposal stipulates that the E911 board will fund the radio communication upgrade at a 50 percent level with Emmet County and the City of Estherville sharing the remaining 50 percent with a respective 65 percent, 35 percent split.

It was understood the E911 board would secure and hold the loan as the lead agency. It was further understood the amount would not exceed $250,000. This expenditure is contingent upon approval of the county supervisors and Estherville City Council.

The board lent some discussion to the possible purchase of an interactive 911 simulator with a price tag of about $2,000.

Emmet County Emergency Management Director Terry Reekers said the device would be useful in how to place 911 calls and what to expect when such calls are placed.

“We could take it to schools and other events and explain 911 and what it is,” he explained, citing statistics on the excessive number of 911 hang-up calls received at the Emmet County Law Enforcement Center.

“It is a big goal to reach children and show them what happens when a 911 call is placed,” Reekers said. “This is a serious thing because prank 911 calls tie up the system, people and time.”

Reekers said the device would be beneficial for senior citizens as he noted many are leery about dialing 911 when an emergency merits a call for assistance. The model piquing interest includes taping capabilities. Dispatchers could be taped so the simulator would use familiar voices.

“This is beneficial so they would know a familiar voice in an actual emergency,” Reekers said.

It was noted that no other county in the local area has purchased this device. But Reekers said every one of them wants to make the purchase as well.

Estherville Police Chief Eric Milburn offered an idea of substituting a ring-down box for a cost of about $200. This tool involves using two telephones but would not have the recording capabilities.

Milburn said he didn’t think the board could afford the luxury of purchasing an interactive 911 simulator at this time.

“I don’t think we have the finances right now,” he said.

Wallingford Mayor Mark Yackle offered 4-H groups are always looking for projects–perhaps they could help with presentations at schools, the county fair, etc.

Ringsted Fire Chief Dan Jorgenson said he would like the board to investigate the ring-down box before spending $2,000.

The board, at that point, tabled the topic.

In other matters, board members:

n Approved the job description and title for the E911 service center coordinator job currently held by Reekers.

n Heard a tower update from Mike Martens, chief deputy.

n Discussed the status of the server and router and the probable costs of replacement.

n Scheduled the next meeting for 7 p.m. on Feb. 7 in the board room at the court house.

Contact Mary Ann Menendez at (712) 362-2622 or mmenendez@esthervilledailynews.com and visit our photo sharing Web site at cu.esthervilledailynews.com