Improvements and New Equipment at Pocahontas 911 Center
There have been a lot of new equipment and other things going on at Pocahontas County Homeland Security, Emergency Management and 911, so we asked the Director, Mike O’Brien to update our listeners about some of these changes and improvements.
“Been a while since we talked” said O’Brien. “Back in December, 2018, the Commission signed off on a new 911 call taking system/CAD system, which is computer aided dispatch for us at the 911 Center, and we went live with the phone part- the call taking part of that on September 11th, which went smooth. We continue to do training on our new CAD system, and get that set up, and we plan to go live with that on April 7th, And that’s an extensive amount of retraining for each of our dispatchers. That also affects the Sheriff’s Department, so each of the sheriff’s Deputies will have to go through retraining, because they are changing the software that they write their reports in and do their tickets in.”
“Along with that, we continue to try to improve on our radio system and our network,” he said. “We’ve been working with engineers and we’ve got a new company involved to help us get our radio system somewhat in-line and improved for the county first responders.”
“Don’t know if you noticed when you came in or nor, but the little cabin next to the 911 Center here, we got that taken down” O’Brien said. “And hope this summer building a new parking lot. I know you have been here during days when there is a commission meeting or court going on, the parking is a little crowded here at the Courthouse, so that will definitely improve our parking area for visitors to the courthouse and the 911 Center.”
“And we are in the process of getting ready to install the road signs on the private roads” he said. “I know that’s been a big undertaking. It’s almost 500 road signs that has to be installed on privately owned roads that are not maintained by the Department of Highways. We have all those signs and we have all the equipment for that in place, that’s going to be a project that we work alongside the Day Report Center to get all these signs up. And that will help everybody, but most importantly first responders find these roads in a timely manner and make sure they are headed in the right direction, and also FedEx, UPS delivery companies, people like that.”
Mike, do our first responders still experience a lot of radio dead areas in the county?
“We have a lot of dead spots” O’Brien answered. “One of the things engineers are looking at to improve that is a couple of different systems that we are putting in. There is no good way. We’re the 3rd largest county in the state, and we have all the National Forest, so there is no infrastructure to tie into to give us the coverage that we really need. But we are thinking outside the box on some projects and engineers are looking at that and I think we’ve got a really good radio company now and moving forward, it should Improve, (It’s) not moving as fast as I want it to move, but we have to take every step. The problem is not on our side, the problem is we have to wait our turn in engineering to get anything done. We’ve upgraded, we’ve replaced a lot of radios, we’ve got our new microwave system in between Thomastown and Snowshoe, that’s helped tremendously. And we’ve replaced some of our repeaters and our equipment, and we’ve got some grants this year to buy radios for some of the fire departments, and we are always continuing to improve and get better equipment, better systems in place, but it is definitely a slow process, and there is a lot of red tape to get through some of this stuff and get it in place.”
“No, just like to remind the Importance of having your 911 address posted, not only on your mailbox, but also on your house” O’Brien said. “When emergency responders are responding to you, (it’s a) good idea to have that sign. You might want one on your mailbox. If you have a long driveway, put one at the end of your driveway, have one on your house. Make it easy for emergency personnel to find you in an emergency.”
“There has been a lot going on here in the last few months” O’Brien added. “And it continues to improve and I think we are headed in the right direction.”