Columbiana County 911 still in works

Training for dispatchers and police officers has been completed.



LISBON — Columbiana County Commissioner Dan Bing estimated that the county’s enhanced 911 emergency phone system could be ready by August.

That’s the latest estimate for the beginning of a program the commissioners said in 2003 would be ready in 2005.

Robert Emmons, director of the project, announced a mixture of good and not-so-good information on the status of the project at an update Tuesday.

Training for more than 100 dispatchers and police officers has been completed, and the equipment that was moved for training at one site will be reinstalled at the emergency system’s answering points.

The county will have five answering points for emergency calls — the county sheriff’s office, and the Columbiana, East Palestine, East Liverpool and Salem police departments.

But Emmons said the status of the list of phone numbers in the county isn’t known. Incorrect or out-of-date numbers must be corrected before the system can go online.

“AT&T has been wonderful to work with,” Emmons added.

When it came to obtaining phone numbers and addresses from Verizon, however, Emmons said, “It’s been a real struggle to get them to respond to our immediate needs.”

Emmons hopes the list of numbers and the equipment will finally be ready at the same time.

Verizon, however, agreed to upgrade some electronic equipment at no cost that was purchased by the county about two years but was never installed since the electronic system isn’t complete.

Under the county plan, computers will show dispatchers the name and address from which the call is made and a map showing the location.

MicroData, a Vermont company that was hired to help create the maps, has offered to upgrade its software at minimal cost. That will include high-definition aerial color photographs of the entire county.

Different layers of information, such as natural gas transmission lines, could be added to maps.

County Engineer Bert Dawson recently created new paper and electronic maps, but Emmons said the county and MicroData information aren’t compatible.

Still, Emmons said, “We should have a far better product at no additional cost.”

Under the plan, if one — or more — of the five answering points closed, emergency calls could be transferred to another one of the answering points. The county’s Emergency Management Agency also could serve as an answering point.

But Emmons said it will be up to the communities to decide how to handle nonemergency calls, radio calls from other departments, or pager alerts used by many firefighters.