Local leaders to discuss centralized dispatch options

Jake Old • Updated Mar 2, 2017 at 11:00 AM

When the Wilson County Emergency Communications 911 Board meets in a work session March 10 at 9 a.m., members of the board and other leaders from local law enforcement and emergency services agencies will discuss how to move forward with some sort of centralized dispatch or unified computer-assisted dispatch system among local agencies.

Currently, agencies use different systems and are located in different buildings. They transfer calls to the relevant department, causing some people in emergency situations to repeat information to multiple dispatchers.

Some officials would like to see every agency under one roof. Others would prefer to see the agencies remain in separate buildings, but put on a common computer-assisted dispatch system, which would make transferring calls among different departments a more seamless process.

According to Karen Moore, director of Wilson County Emergency Communications, the 911 dispatchers are still exceeding national dispatch standards in more than 99 percent of all calls. The team is properly trained and answers on the first ring, Moore said.

Still, after an incident in 2016 in which a child accidentally shot himself and his brother, who called 911, was required to repeat information about the incident and was eventually hung up on by a Lebanon police dispatcher, some officials wanted a more efficient system in place.

At a meeting in February, Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan indicated he was interested in doing something as soon as possible, and he said he was willing to move his department’s dispatchers to a different location.

Wilson County Emergency Management Agency director Joey Cooper and Mt. Juliet police Lt. Tyler Chandler both indicated their agencies would be interested in a centralized dispatch location. 

For WEMA, additional hurdles stand between making the decision to co-locate with other agencies. County approval at multiple levels is required before such a decision can be made.

For the Mt. Juliet and Lebanon police and fire departments, there is not enough room for their dispatch teams in the immediate options for co-location.

Options that are available in the immediate future involve the sheriff’s office, WEMA and Wilson County Emergency Communications all moving their dispatchers to either the 911 building or the WEMA building.

According to officials, there would likely be enough room to house dispatchers from those three agencies, but not additional dispatchers.

Thus, officials would need to map out some sort of long-term plan to include those other agencies in a centralized location if the decision is made to co-locate.

At the February meeting, Chandler said the Mt. Juliet Police Department is willing to move dispatchers to any location chosen, provided the city of Mt. Juliet signs off on it. Chandler said he prefers co-location to a common computer-assisted dispatch system.

Moore said she and Ken Davis, chairman of the emergency communications board, met with Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty and City Manager Kenny Martin, and the two city leaders were receptive to the idea of co-location.

Moore has asked the 911 Board to also entertain the idea of simply attempting to adopt a common computer-assisted dispatch system among all county and municipal agencies. This would make sending calls more efficient than the way they are currently transferred.

In February, members of the 911 Board said they intend to have a much better idea of the direction they want to go after next week’s work session and ultimately plan to have at least a rough outline of how they will move forward in the process. 

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