911 Upgrade Could Be On the Way For Greene County, Paragould

October 16, 2007 - Posted at 2:01 p.m. CDT

PARAGOULD, AR -- Getting help in an emergency could soon be easier in parts of Region 8. Greene County is looking to upgrade its system - meaning less delay time for callers and mapping cell phone locations.  It all starts with Paragould and Greene County working together.

It's a phone call that usually has hope on the other end of the line.

"When you are talking an emergency situation, seconds mean a lot," said OEM/911 Coordinator Shelly Hood.

Right now when a call comes to dispatch, the emergency is assessed and then re-routed.

"What we are trying to do is reduce the middle man and have all the calls come to us.  Whereas right now all the calls go to Paragould and they ascertain if it's county and then transfer the call to us and we answer the same call and we go through the same information this person has already gave it to a Paragould dispatcher," said Greene County Sheriff Dan Langston.

About 72% of all 911 calls come from cell phones, but 911 dispatchers in Greene County currently can't determine who is calling or where they are even calling from. Something that could have made a big difference in the accident of Joel McCracken.

17-year-old McCracken waited for help for six hours after he crashed his truck off of Highway 149 back in June.  He called 911 from his cell phone, but no one could find his exact location.

"With us not having the Phase Two system we don't know where that call is from or if these people need help, like we can on landlines. We can get an officer out there...so it's going to be a very, very good program once we can get started with it," said Hood.

The Greene County Quorum Court is researching the project before committing to the upgrade.  The new system would cost just over $89,000.