The History of 911 Service in DeKalb County

History of 9-1-1 in DeKalb County

For many years only a couple of the Telephone exchanges in DeKalb County offered 9-1-1 service. It was a voice only call so the call takers had to ask for more information. If the caller was not from this area and or a person that did not know their address, responding to their need was difficult, and sometimes involved an Operator to intervene and trace the call for us. That was time consuming, again slowing down any response. Those customers who did not have 9-1-1 service had to dial a 7-digit number to get emergency service, this call was often long distance for the caller.


Richard Ring who was then the EMS Director for the County began the process of developing a County Wide 9-1-1 System sometime in the mid to late 1980's that would service every customer in the county. His efforts were successful and the County Wide Enhanced 9-1-1 system went on line July 1, 1991 at which time, Mr. Ring turned the project over to the 9-1-1 Director for DeKalb County.


The Countywide Enhanced 9-1-1 system was purchased from and installed by what was then the General Telephone Company, now called Verizon. The new Enhanced system not only gave the 9-1-1 call takers a voice contact, but a computer system linked to the call would give information on a screen about the calling party. The name of the customer as well as the address they were calling from would appear on a screen at the dispatchers work area. Information on the screen also included what emergency agencies should respond to the given address for Police, Fire and EMS. Special information could be provided by the resident or company about any special needs at the address such as existing medical conditions, hazardous materials, structure information; small children and any pets that may be present. This information greatly reduced the time needed to get emergency services units responding to the scene. Also provided was a call back number from where the call originated so in case the call was disconnected the call takers could call the party back.


With the ever increasing popularity of the Cell Phones, call takers are once again faced with a voice only 9-1-1 call and now even more callers now calling in and not knowing where they are. As technology grows and due to laws passed by the FCC, the wireless industry and us are now in the process of upgrading the equipment to provide additional caller information on a wireless call. Some of the new information being provided includes the Longitude and Latitude of the telephone being used on the call and also the calling party phone number. With this information, a point can be plotted a digital map that displays to us the location of the caller. We can also call the person back should we get disconnected. This information although not 100 percent accurate, is an improvement over just a voice call and the technology is being improved daily to help better deliver more accurate information. The digital map that we are using is from the County/City GIS Departments using a map that they have developed over the past few years. Their maps include but are not limited to, aerial photographs of all the roadways, and properties located within DeKalb County. The maps also show municipal city limits, waterways, street and road names and they are in the process of displaying the address of each property.

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