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Emmet control room enters 21st century

By Staff | Aug 14, 2009

Members of the Emmet County E911 Service Board toured the newly renovated facilities within the Emmet County Law Enforcement Center as part of the meeting Wednesday. Work on phase I is nearly complete.

Sheriff Mike Martens explained how the antiquated system, parts of which are ’70s-’80s vintage, was replaced with the most up-to-date radio communications system.

“This is 200 percent better,” said board chair Dan Jorgensen. The difference is day and night,” said Terry Reekers, coordinator of Emmet County Emergency Management.

Visitors to the law enforcement will now find a phone which will ring into the dispatcher on duty upon pick up. Dispatchers are responsible for monitoring five different screens simultaneously in addition to handling the phones for the Estherville Police Department and the Emmet County Sheriff’s Department and all 911 calls.

Martens said the unified computer system allows control of all monitoring equipment with one mouse and one keyboard. The more efficient work area includes desk space that is adjustable to fit the dispatcher. It can be raised if the dispatcher chooses to stand or lowered for comfort while sitting. Reekers added the computers are now uniform with just one vendor. “We’ve gained ground here.”

Phase I is 85 percent complete. “I’m tickled with it,” the sheriff said. “Phase I should be done by next Wednesday.”

Returning to the table, it was noted the E911 service board is responsible for the first half of the cost. The remainder is to be shared by the City of Estherville at 35 percent and Emmet County at 65 percent.

In other matters, the board learned:

n The virus update is complete on the computers and is good for three years.

n On Star Emergency has requested to use Emmet County’s E911 system with a signed agreement. It was explained On Star would not pay for use of services. Reekers is reviewing On Star partnerships with other Iowa counties and weighing the pros and cons.

n The potential onset of H1N1 Flu may lead to an overwhelming number of 911 calls.

n 911 funding can be used for dispatcher training.