JEFFERSON-Ashe County inched closer to implementing a back-up 911 dispatch center with approval of county commissioners Monday morning to secure a lease agreement to house a secondary call office at Family Central in Jefferson.
Phil Howell, director of communications at the sheriff’s office, appeared before the board to update commissioners on the progress being made by his department in implementing a back-up office in the event that a surge in call volume or any other catastrophic event rendered the command center useless.
The need for another option to hand emergency calls originated from legislation passed two years ago by the N.C. General Assembly that required such a center.
Ashe County is currently somewhat limited in its contingency plans for redirecting calls. Unlike Ashe, Alleghany doesn’t use an emergency call protocol that requires dispatchers to ask a series of questions before dispatching medics. In many situations, they simply just send out an ambulance or other unit without gathering more information, said Howell.
“This eliminated Alleghany as a potential partner,” he said.
Currently, missed calls to the Ashe dispatch center are re-directed to Wilkes County.
Even if the county wanted to retain Wilkes County as its back-up call center, the county would have to pay the costs associated with running a fiber optic cable down the mountain to that office.
In looking for a back-up center, Howell said an office at Family Central would be the most logical choice.
“One idea was to use Family Central location,” said Howell. “It already has county infrastructure, like Internet. The only thing have to pay for is the lease out there. It needs generator and wiring too.”
Reach Jesse Campbell at 336-846-7164.