Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New 911 Center Operating, Linking Emergency Services

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New 911 Center Operating, Linking Emergency Services

Article excerpt

Imagine this. You live in Warren County. It's suppertime, and you're in the kitchen frying potatoes. Suddenly a car swerves off the road and crashes into your house. The impact knocks the skillet off the stove and starts a fire.

You need the fire department. You need the police and you need an ambulance for the driver, who is hurt. So you run to a neighbor's house and grab the phone. But wait. What fire district do you live in? Do you live in a city with a police department or do you need the Sheriff's Department? What about the ambulance district?

Once you sort all that out, you have to dial a handful of telephone numbers to get the help you need.

That was then. This is now - pick up the nearest phone and dial 911. The one call will go immediately to the new 911 center at Warrenton. The dispatcher will punch a key on her computer console, notify all three of the services you need simultaneously and send them speeding to your aid. And the dispatcher can calm you down.

The 911 center started operating officially at noon Thursday. It's buried in a hillside off Highway U; it is earthquake-resistant and tornado-proof. It's furnished with four dispatcher stations, complete with nearly optimum computer and radio equipment. Even more sophisticated equipm ent should be installed this summer.

The communications center dispatches for the Warren County Sheriff's Department, four police departments, two ambulance districts and four fire departments or districts. It can communicate instantly with tow-truck co mpanies, child-abuse and other hotlines, hospitals, utility companies and other services.

The center cost about $800,000 to build and $750,000 to equip. It's paid for with proceeds from a sales tax voters approved on Feb. 2, 1994. The center is governed by a seven-member board.

Ken Koch, board president, said Thursday afternoon that he was very pleased to see that everything worked smoothly. …

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