Lawrence County E-911 Upgrades Go Wireless

WALNUT RIDGE, AR (KAIT) - In many cases a call into the 911 center can mean a life and death situation.

So, a new project within Lawrence County's Communication Center will soon mean quicker response to calls from a cell phone.

"We find that it's critical to have phase two in the 911 system because you've got more and more people that are doing away with their landline phones and getting wireless phones," said 911 Coordinator Peggy Miles.

Phase one was implemented in 2005 and gives dispatchers a name, phone number, address and map location from a caller using a land-line, but the new technology will give soon give dispatchers that same information for your cell.

"It shows the lattitude and longitude, therefore it will show the caller's location," said Miles.

That's technology that even Sheriff Dan Ellison says would have come in handy in the past.

"We did have an incident here last year where a party had called and there was an accident and a death involved. It took some time to locate that party that was utilizing a cell phone," said Ellison.

But on wednesday trainers from AT&T were working with 911 operators on how to use their new tools for the future.

It's expected that when you call 911 from your cell phone over the next six months they will be able to trace where you call is coming from, but if you make the call right now information comes up here in dispatch that at least gives them the telephone number and the tower location that the call is being bounced off of.

"You have a general idea where the call is coming from; not an exact location ,but a general idea. If the call gets dropped at least you have a number you can call back," said Miller.

And with 911 dispatch being the heart of emergency services, the upcoming improvements are something you can feel a little more easy about whether you live in Lawrence County, or your just passing through.

"It just adds another dimension to the services for this county," said Ellison.

Cell phone companies have up to six months to link their gps capabilities to the Lawrence County 911 mapping system, but it is expected that the system will be fully functional within a few weeks.

Meanwhile, funding for the new technology came from a series of state and federal grants.

As of now, more than 73 percent of all calls coming into the 911 center are made from mobile phones.

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