No Bridge in Place Yet, 911 Board Hears

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Published on July 10 2012 2:29 pm
Last Updated on July 14 2013 12:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Effingham County 911 board members Tuesday heard that a bridge designed to improve communications between city and county law enforcement officers hasn't arrived.

As a result, action to establish a date of discontinuing use of 800 megahertz analog radios and to prepare RFPs to replace the dispatching consoles at the two county dispatching points was tabled for another month.

(THIS IS SIMILAR TO WHAT LOCAL TELECOMMUNICATORS AND DISPATCHERS FACE EVERY SHIFT.  THE COUNTY 911 BOARD IS CONSIDERING UPGRADING THE DISPATCHING CONSOLES)

Effingham County Chief Deputy Sheriff John Loy told the 911 members the bridge is still being put together.  Loy said the bridge might be here later this week or next week.

There sometimes is distortion when city and county police officers try to talk to one another, and it's hoped the bridge would minimize the distortion, if not eliminate the problem.  There is hope that it could also facilitate communication among all of the area emergency services agencies.

However, local officials still don't know whether it will work and, until they can test the bridge, the decision was to hold off on other action.  Loy said that the effectiveness of the bridge could affect what is included in the request for proposals on the new dispatching consoles.

County EMA Director Russ Thomas, who has been most vocal on ending use of 800 analog radios said the effective date to end use of 800 is not as important as getting the word out that use of 800 will come to an end at some point.

Loy asked that 911 board members focus on replace dispatching consoles, not upgrading what 911 is using.  He said pursuing an upgrade hamstrings 911 from considering other vendors, and said there might be another vendor who would have suitable equipment available for less money.

911 board members also discussed the Illinois State Police dispatching changeover, which is set to take effect this Saturday.  As of Saturday at 7am, state police dispatching for this region will not be done from Effingham, but from DuQuoin.  Dispatching for other districts, not just Effingham, is also being consolidated.  The cut is designed to save the State money.  There are some concerns, though, that the costs will go up for 911.  That's because city and county dispatchers receiving an emergency call for assistance from State Police stay on line until the call is transferred.  After Saturday, those calls will be long distance for the local 911 dispatchers. 

There was also concern voiced that dispatchers in those areas won't be familiar with our area.  That's confirmed by word that none of the current District 12 dispatchers are going to DuQuoin.

District 12 Telecommunications Supervisor Sherry Mahon Tuesday said she's headed for a job at the headquarters in Collinsville, two others have found jobs with the State in Springfield, one in communications, and four others are taking layoffs, three voluntarily.  Mahon said those on layoff will have first crack at new jobs when they're posted for the next three years, but noted that it's been a long time since any hirings have occurred.