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TMCNet:  How it Works: Ozark-Dale County E-911 call center continues work

[February 21, 2013]

How it Works: Ozark-Dale County E-911 call center continues work

OZARK, Feb 21, 2013 (Dothan Eagle - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Kathy Walker started 15 years ago in a field she said she continues to enjoy.

Walker, who has a medical background, said the idea of helping people led her to a job at the Ozark-Dale County E-911 call center. Walker and around a dozen others answer emergency calls for 18 different agencies throughout Dale County.

The E-911 center received its operating system 12 years ago and has since been updated with a mapping center and other devices that can not only map where a call is coming from but also a vicinity of where the call is located.

Dispatchers are then able to retrieve through the system which agency to notify.

Assistant E-911 Director Paula Simmons said landlines provide more accurate information to E-911 than cell phones, particularly in relation to location.

When the call center is backed up in 911 calls, Simmons said the system routes the calls to other 911 call centers that either take the call or try to transfer the call back to Dale County.

"Sometimes we can get 20 to 30 calls in reference to a wreck on Highway 231, even with an officer on the scene," she said.

The Ozark-Dale County call center is funded through landlines, wireless monies and municipal contracts with the agencies for which the call center dispatches. It was not immediately available how many calls the center has received this year, but Walker said the call volume has steadily increased at least in the last decade.

Simmons said challenges the organization faces involve managing calls to 911 that are not emergencies, such as calls requesting phone numbers or other information while emergency calls are also coming in.

The benefit of Dale County's call center is its ability to contact other agencies through the call center's database without having to make phone calls to notify agencies individually.

Walker said the energy she gets from knowing she is helping others makes her job worth while.

"It's always different, always interesting, no matter how routine some of the calls can be," Walker said. "There's always something to look forward to." ___ (c)2013 the Dothan Eagle (Dothan, Ala.) Visit the Dothan Eagle (Dothan, Ala.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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