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COLUMBIANA COUNTY Officials mull creating 911 system



Published: Wed, April 17, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The new system could be in place by summer.

By NORMAN LEIGH

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

LISBON -- Columbiana County officials are pondering creation of a basic 911 emergency telephone answering system as a first step toward a more sophisticated arrangement.

Members of the county's 911 advisory committee met Tuesday to hear an explanation of a new federal law.

The regulation requires that any 911 call placed in the United States be routed to a safety services agency within the border of the county from which the call originated.

The requirement, prompted by the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, must by met by Sept. 11 this year.

Where the calls go

Since Columbiana County has no countywide 911 system in place, most 911 calls made in the county are routed to telephone operators outside the county.

The operator then tries to link the caller to the closest safety service agency inside the county.

The routing wastes precious time during an emergency, which is what helped prompt the new federal law.

The county 911 advisory committee, which includes area elected and safety officials, will meet April 30 to formulate a plan to comply with the federal regulation by the Sept. 11 deadline.

That will require designating which safety services agencies in the county will answer 911 calls originating from each of the several three-digit telephone number prefixes that serve the county.

Prefixes in the Salem area, for example, probably will have 911 calls routed to the Salem Police Department.

The East Liverpool Police Department could be the destination for 911 calls originating from three-digit prefixes serving areas in or around that city.

Those who live in the country, may have their calls routed to the county sheriff's department or the nearest municipal safety agency with 24-hour, seven-day-a-week dispatching services.

There will be no additional cost to the communities or telephone users for the 911 routing service.

"This is not the total answer, but it's a step in the right direction," Commissioner Dave Cranmer told the advisory committee, which he chairs.

The countywide system could be in place sometime this summer.

Looking ahead

Officials noted that they eventually hope to see an enhanced 911 system created in the county.

Enhanced 911, which is how many systems in the state are configured, uses databases that automatically provide dispatchers with key information, such as the address from which the call is made.

Before an enhanced system can be implemented, county officials must devise a way to pay for it, a cost that ranges from $214,400 to $428,000.

One method being discussed is placing a monthly surcharge on business and residential telephone lines.

Voters will have a final say in the matter because they would have to approve any surcharge.

leigh@vindy.com




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