LISBON, Ohio (WYTV) – A new radio system is coming to Columbiana County to better protect first responders from a service outage.
In the middle of December, 911 Coordinator Brian Rutledge woke up to a phone call at 12:30 in the morning.
“Our AT&T fiber link had been taken down,” he said. “This particular one was a maintenance issue that they had to deal with.”
What that meant was all 911 calls in Columbiana County had to go through the sheriff’s office. From there, the operator had to hand-call a specific city’s police or fire department to alert the right people.
“Some locations still have the — what’s referred to as a ‘POTS line’ — plain old telephone lines. It’s just not as efficient as you want it to be,” Rutledge said.
Don Kemp explained a new handheld MARCS portable radio will make service outages no longer much of an issue.
Now, all emergency dispatchers will have one of them plugged into their desks. With the click of a button, they’ll be connected to the rest of the dispatchers in the county.
“Now don’t get me wrong, they can fail, but their uptime is 99.8%,” Kemp said. “If you look at AT&T or even cell phone towers, it’s better than that.”
Rutledge said the county sees, at most, five service outages in a year with its call center and they can’t take any chances.
Overall, the new equipment will cost around $8,000, all of which will be paid for out of the 911 center’s budget.
“911 centers, the dispatch — they don’t pay anymore. It doesn’t come back to the county in any way,” Rutledge said.
Earlier this year, Trumbull County dispatchers switched to this system. They use MARCS as a primary plan, not a backup.
Rutledge said Columbiana County dispatchers could see this in action in as soon as a couple of months.