EOC could centralize dispatching
Wednesday, February 13, 2013 12:00 AM
Emergency telecommunication operations for the city of Philadelphia as well as Kemper County could be centralized with Neshoba County when the new $1.6 million Emergency Operations Center is constructed here, the authorities said.
The Neshoba County Board of Supervisors will open bids for the new facility, to be constructed off Chestnut Street near the jail, on March 14 at 2 p.m.
The EOC will house 911 communications, administrative offices, a so-called "war room," support space and storage.
An inter-local agreement between all governing bodies would be necessary if the city of Philadelphia and/or Kemper County elect to centralize their operations at the EOC.
The agreement would outline how calls for each entity are handled and how Neshoba County would be compensated, among other logistics.
Mayor James A. Young said Monday that he would like to see Philadelphia and Neshoba County go to one centralized dispatch when the new center opens later this year.
Kemper County officials are also in discussions with Neshoba County about combining their E-911 and dispatching operations as well.
Officials from both Kemper and Philadelphia are working out the details through the Neshoba County Emergency Management Agency.
Ben Dudley, executive director of the Kemper County Emergency Management Agency, said no timetable has been set for a decision on the centralization.
He said Kemper County would pay Neshoba County to handle its 911 and emergency calls if an agreement is reached.
"This is the best financial way for us to do it," Dudley said. "It will enhance our service and save the county money."
Dudley estimated that it would save his county as much as 20 percent the first year and as much as 50 percent the following years.
Johnny Whitsett, president of the Kemper County Board of Supervisors, also voiced support for the centralization.
"It will save us because we won't have to buy a lot of new equipment," he said. "Our biggest concern was where to place our workers."
Sheriff James Moore earlier assured supervisors that he would be able to find those employees new positions in the sheriff's department by the time their jobs were phased out.
"We gave them a nod to move forward, but we still need to look at the numbers," Whitsett said. "We have not made an official decision to move forward. Ben is supposed to get back to us with the numbers [how much it would cost and the savings] and we will go from there.
"It's something we are looking at, but we do have some [on the board] who are very apprehensive about it."
Currently, all 911 calls in Philadelphia and Neshoba County are answered at the county's communications center housed at the jail. If the request is for Philadelphia police response, the call is transferred to city communications housed in the police department where it is dispatched to officers.
Mayor Young said centralized dispatch would alleviate the second call tier for the city.
"I support it because you have less possibility of missed calls and dropped calls, when you have one dispatching center handling all the emergency calls. I think it would be more efficient.
"Our people have done a great job and they continue to do a great job but the efficiency of 911 should be at its peak. The less a call is handled the more efficient that call would be," Young said.
He said officials were working out the logistics of combining the current city and county telecommunicators at the new center.
"How we do our salaries would have to be looked at and/or whether the city pays three or four telecommunicators, etc. That will also have to be worked out since we would be sharing the cost."
Preliminary site work is under way for the new EOC, which is expected to take 180 days to complete once construction gets under way.