Sylvester officials want change in county's 9-1-1 system -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Sylvester officials want change in county's 9-1-1 system

November 26, 2007

Sylvester -- Inside Worth County's Emergency 9-1-1 Center, hundreds of calls come in everyday. And each year, the number of calls rises.

"We get between 20,000 and 30,000 calls a year," says Worth County EMA Director Lyndel E. Ford Jr.

Worth County 9-1-1 serves the entire county including the city of Sylvester and its 6,000 residents. But calls dispatched inside the city limits are often handled differently from those coming in from the county.

"When the city gets some calls into us, we have to transfer calls to the city on a designated phone line," says Ford.

This means Emergency 9-1-1 calls phoned into dispatch will be transferred to operators at Sylvester Police or Fire Department. While calls can be transferred by the push of a button, the question of response time does not seem to be an issue. However, citizens of Sylvester who pay a monthly fee of $1.50 for the service, may not be getting what they pay for.

"That was an issue that we raised, that the citizens of Sylvester weren't getting their total money's worth from it because every phone is taxed for the 9-1-1 system," said Sylvester Mayor Bill Yearta.

The issue began more than a decade ago when the 9-1-1 system first came online in Worth County. The Sylvester Police and Fire Departments decided then to have 9-1-1 calls transferred to their emergency operators. But a tentative agreement between the city and county officials may change that.

"Well the city would provide two dispatchers. Then that way the whole system would work better for the whole city of Sylvester," says Yearta.

While no date has been set for an official agreement, additional operators will mean one less phone call and more efficiency during times of emergencies.

Worth County 9-1-1 officials say that in the case of serious emergencies, they can dispatch city fire and police without transferring calls to an operator.

Currently the call center dispatches county fire and EMS services without transfer.

As for the Worth County Sheriff's Office, emergency 9-1-1 only handles their calls after hours and on weekends.



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