911 center shared with public



February 19, 2010 - 12:00 AM

The public was given its first look at Allen County’s new dispatch center Friday.
Dozens of visitors toured the Allen County Critical Response Center at 401 N. State St., which replaced the old 911 dispatch center at City Hall.
They were given a look at the hub, a trio of dispatchers’ work stations connected to a nearby wall of computers and data information systems.
Each station features a state-of-the-art telephone and radio system equipped with five monitors.
One displays call data and a screen that shows an image of the precise location from which a call originated; another monitors all active calls involving any of Allen County’s emergency agencies; a third is used to assess and maintain re-cords; a fourth is connected to the National Crime Information Center and a fifth controls radio communications.
The system is designed for user-friendly operations, explained dispatcher Scott Stewart. It took dispatchers less than a day to master the new system, he said. More importantly, the information dispatchers can send and receive with a few mouse clicks “greatly enhances our ability to save lives,” Stewart said.
Nine dispatchers staff the new center.
The county took over dispatch services from the city last month and moved operations into the new station on North State Street.
The changeover, pegged at about $350,000, is partly funded with a $143,000 state grant for 911 services.
Allen County expects to receive another $169,000 grant as well.
The county paid Heartland Rural Electric $185,000 for the building and adjacent parking area last year. In December, the county and Heartland completed a deal for a large ga-rage/maintenance building and an additional five acres directly west of the communications center. The county paid $200,000 and swap-ped land along U.S. 54 in Gas that originally had been targeted for an ambulance station. Heartland is building a new facility there.
County ambulances stationed in Iola will be housed in the more recently acquired structure, with ownership transfer scheduled for April 1. Ambulances housed now in a warehouse at the east edge of Iola should be in the new building sometime in May.
Access to the dispatch center will be limited. The public can enter the foyer, but not the center itself. An intercom system will link the foyer to dispatchers.
The dispatch center’s business number is (620) 365-1437.
Calls to the sheriff’s department, 365-1400, Iola Police Department, 365-4960, Humboldt Police Department, 473-2341, and Moran Police Department, 237-4724, will be answered during regular business hours. After hours, those calls are routed to the dispatch center.
For people living outside the 365 prefix area, calls after hours and on weekends ring directly to the communications center without a long distance charge.

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