A new home calling to local 911
Time is ticking down until Carter County 911 moves into its new communication center.
On Friday, the agency held an Open House for the new facility, an event attended by not only the public, but local emergency services personnel and officials from Carter County and neighboring counties as well. The official move-in date for the agency is scheduled for July 16 at 9 a.m.
Chris Sims, GIS/IT Coordinator for Carter County 911, provided tours of the new facility and explained some of the advantages the new center will have over the current location.
One of the most important features, Sims said, is room to grow. “It will help us grow in the future,” he said. “We had no room to grow at the old building.”
Currently the dispatch room at the new center has five console work stations for dispatchers. “We can go up to eight consoles if we need to,” Sims said. Because the call volume handled by 911 dispatchers is growing, Sims said having room at the new center to grow will help Carter County 911 and its Board of Directors be able to better plan for the future.
The new center will also feature a new, upgraded phone system. “We hadn’t been able to put it in before because of the limitations of the old building,” Sims said, adding that the new phone system will meet state requirements. “We had issues with the electrical system at the old building that were beyond our control.”
Improved security is also an important feature at the new center, Sims said. “You have to be buzzed in three times before you can get into dispatch,” he said.
A new 80-foot radio tower was installed at the center, an improvement over the 40-foot tower at the current location. Sims said that the new, larger tower will help improve radio reception between the dispatchers and emergency personnel in the field.
Sims said the building housing the new center was purchased using grant money through the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board. The agency purchased the building on Sycamore Street, which formerly housed a medical services business, and remodeled it from the inside out.
“It is made the way we need it,” he said.
One of the improvements that has the employees happy, Sims said, is the breakroom and kitchen area. Including the kitchen will allow employees, many of whom work long hours, to prepare meals on site instead of having to order out for food.
“It gets expensive eating out all the time,” Sims said.
Many of the dispatchers who were touring the new facility on Friday expressed their excitement over the kitchen because the electrical issues at the old building limited their ability to prepare food on site for their meal breaks.
According to Sims, the new center is something that the employees of Carter County 911 have been looking forward to for a long time.
“It is going to be a tremendous change,” he said. “Everything you can think of is better. This is something we have been wanting to do for a long time.”