Pocahontas County 911 Center and Emergency Management Updates Part 1

A lot of things have been happening in both the Pocahontas County 911 Center and with the County Emergency Services, so we went to the Director Michael O’Brien to learn about both.

Mike first wanted to tell us about their efforts to improve the critical radio communications between the 911 Center and the various first responders, as well as communications between responders.

“About a year ago we got a grant to update our microwave system from the State” said O’Brien. “That’s in the works and we’ve been negotiating with City Net. Were actually going to run a fiber line from here at the 911 Center to our Thomastown tower site and upgrade the microwave link from there to Snowshoe. We’ve been in negotiations with City Net for almost a year now and we verbally came to an acceptable agreement on our contract and we’ll take that to the County Commission Meeting on August 7th and hopefully they approve out MOU with them to install the fiber line here at the 911 Center. That will tremendously help out radio signal from here to Snowshoe and coverage. That seems like it’s a weak part or our system.”

Next Mike explains about the need to replace their current CAD System at the 911 Center. For those who might not know, CAD stands for Computer Aided Dispatch System which allows for emergency responder dispatchers to automatically see the locations of first responders, determine the closest units to dispatch to an emergency 911 call and to track the response and arrival times of those emergency units, whether it be police or fire. CAD Systems also maintain a history of calls for service so, for example, a responding law enforcement officer can be informed before their arrival at a call if there have been prior similar calls to a location or if a vehicle at a traffic stop has been stopped before and if there were any safety or violence issues associated with any of those prior responses. In other words, the CAD System is the heart of any 911 dispatch system.

“Almost a year ago we got a letter from our current CAD vender that our CAD Company has been bought out by another company” O’Brien said. “Basically they are not going to support our current CAD System anymore. So we’re going to have to upgrade our CAD System and our phone system has to be upgraded this year. So we’re shopping and we’re demoing CAD companies and phone companies and of course, that will affect the Sheriff’s Department as well, so they are involved in the selection as well. We found one we really like and we’re going through the steps now and trying to get our proposals together and take that to the Commission to make a change with our phone system-CAD system. Once we sign the paperwork it will take a year to bring that to fruition.”

Stay tuned to Allegheny Mountain Radio for Part two of our talk with Mike O’Brien of the Pocahontas County Emergency Management and 911 Center  where we will talk about the 911 Mapping and Addressing as well as about the impact on the county’s emergency responses caused by the pipeline construction and the Snowshoe RAD.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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