Bath County 911 center receives grant
By Bonnie Ralston
Some updates are on the way for Bath County’s 911 center. The center, which is staffed 24/7, takes all emergency 911 calls, including cell phone 911 calls and administrative calls for sheriff’s office. Teresa Phillips, a Sergeant with the Bath County Sheriff’s Office, is the Communications Supervisor.
“We actually just received a grant, $150,000, from the state,” says Phillips. “And it’s no match for the county, so it’s fully funded. And we are looking at new CAD systems for the dispatch center, which CAD is computer aided dispatch. And we’ve talked to several vendors. We’re still shopping around, visiting some other 911 centers and seeing what their systems are. And we’re hoping to have a decision made by July and then once the decision is made, equipment will be ordered and we hope to be up and running by early fall.”
The current system at the 911 center is about six years old. Among the improvements Phillips is hoping to get are some mapping upgrades. And the aerial photography being used is from 2007 and she wants to get that upgraded to the latest version.
“One of the features that we’re looking at with the new system is texting for our fire and rescue and law enforcement,” says Phillips. “For example, if we dispatch a fire call, a rescue call, we’re dispatching our local volunteer fire department members and we do that by radio. But these new systems will let us text these members. So they’ll also receive a text message on their phones, personal cell phones, which is good if they’re working and can’t have their radios on, or if they’re in an area that the radios don’t pick up very well, they’ll receive a text message. And with most systems, that’s an automatic thing so the dispatcher’s not even actually having to push a button. They’re just toning and the text will go out.”
An important service provided by the 911 center is the Code Red alert system. Code Red emergency messages can be sent by phone or email. And it’s important that everyone help keep the Code Red database updated.
“We use it to alert our citizens in emergency situations, give them information on where to go or what they need to do,” says Phillips. “It can also be used in law enforcement, if we have a missing person, a missing child, or a certain neighborhood needs to be aware of an incident that’s going on, we’ll send out a Code Red message. I’d like to remind all citizens to keep their information current. If you’ve moved or you’ve changed a phone number you need to get that information to us. We have a website or you can contact me directly.”
And there’s another way to get information from the 911 center about emergencies.
“I’d also like to remind citizens about our Facebook page,” says Phillips. “We do have a “Bath County VA Alert” Facebook page. A lot of the messages that are sent out through Code Red are also put on the Facebook site. So if you are a Facebook user, you can go to that page “Bath County VA Alert” and you will receive those messages.”
You can update your Code Red contact information by going to the Bath County website. It’s www.bathcountyva.org Click on the Code Red link in the left hand corner. Or you can call Teresa Phillips at 540-839-7287.