911 director updates community on call center upgrades

News
Marty Roberts - Towns 911

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County 911 Director Marty Roberts brought the community up-to-date on the progress of the upgraded equipment and renovations to the Emergency Operations Center during the February commissioner’s meeting.

“We’re excited at 911. There’s a lot of things happening down there that are just wonderful,” Roberts said. “Everything looks great. The dispatchers are really excited about the new upgrades. We’re ahead of schedule on going live with our CAD. We started our training last week. We were in training for four days. We’ve got two more weeks of that and then we’ll be cutting live on the 24th of March. So we’re really excited about that.”

Roberts confided that the renovations have not been a simple task, however, considering that the 911 center is operational at all times. In addition to a lease agreement with AVTEC for the radio console systems, a contract with Quality Recording for a recorder to preserve the audio of 911 calls was signed by Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw.

“The radio console, it’s not actually a radio,” Roberts continued. “It’s actually a computer system hooked to radios which allows the dispatchers to combine different frequencies to talk to the fire, EMS, SO at the same time. So we don’t have to talk to one and then talk to the other. It allows us to do our tones that we dispatch to alert the fire station or the ambulance services when we have a call.” Roberts said that the upgraded system will increase the speed of emergency dispatch.

Emergency dispatch, responders switch to digital communication

 

A five-year lease agreement was entered with AT&T in November, in conjunction with West Safety Services, at a cost of $4.260 per month for the emergency telecommunications service. Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw explained that while the county considered purchasing the service, the lease agreement proved to be the better bargain due to maintenance and service costs associated with an owned system.

Bradshaw previously signed a contract in July 2019, upgrading the county’s computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system for emergency services. Towns County 911 explained that the improved system will be custom-tailored to Towns County. The cost of the enhanced CAD system totals nearly $213,000, a price that Bradshaw defined as a “tremendous amount of money.” The charge is roughly half of the amount that the commissioner expected to spend on the program upon taking office, however, and Bradshaw expressed approval, referencing computer-aided dispatch as “the heartbeat of 911.”

“There are times when leasing is more cost-effective because the maintenance of this equipment is included in the lease,” Bradshaw said on Tuesday. The new console system will cost $2,983 per month which includes maintenance, whereas it has cost $1,055 per month in maintenance alone without parts included for the 12-year-old system. “We’re not only upgrading all of the technology and equipment down there, we’re also remodeling the interior of the building,” Bradshaw added. “New floor coverings, ceiling, tiles, paint, and it’s going to look very nice.”

The commissioner said that the public will be invited to view the renovations to the 911 Center once the project is complete.

Emergency dispatch, responders switch to digital communication

News
Towns County 911

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Emergency Operations Center is in the process of transitioning from analog to digital radio communications with a test run currently in effect. The updated system is scheduled to “cut live” on Tuesday, Jan.21. Towns County E-911 Director Marty Roberts said that the test period is progressing well, stating that the updated system provides clearer reception in areas where service was once weak for communication between dispatchers and first responders.

Click to read Towns County to upgrade 911 emergency system in 2020

Citizens who have listened to emergency transmissions on analog scanners in the past will no longer be able to receive information without upgrading to a digital device. Roberts said, however, that Towns County E-911 will continue to use analog communication with the Georgia State Patrol, Department of Natural Resources, and medical flight transport as those divisions remain on an analog system.

Analog and digital radios transmit signals over a radio channel using a carrier frequency wave. The manner that the transmission is encoded over a channel frequency is different, however. Analog radios use frequency modulation to encode a voice signal within a carrier wave. The sound of the user’s voice modulates the frequency of the stream. The difference between the modulated frequency and the baseline channel frequency can then be demodulated by the receiving radio and turned back into a comprehensible voice message.

Digital radios operate in the same manner, but they have an extra encoding step before the voice signal reaches the carrier wave. The voice message is encoded into binary packets. These packets of numbers are then able to modulate the frequency of the carrier wave.

Tuesday’s official launch of the updated system will include staff from emergency departments in attendance, Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw said.

Towns County 911 upgrades advance on schedule

News
Towns County 911

HIAWASSEE, Ga.- Towns County held a special-called meeting last week to advance plans for the county’s updated 911 command center. A five-year lease agreement was signed with AT&T, in conjunction with West Safety Services, at a cost of $4.260 per month for the emergency telecommunications service. Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw explained that while the county considered purchasing the service, the lease agreement proved to be the better bargain due to maintenance and service costs associated with an owned system.

Towns County 911

Renovations are underway at the Towns County 911 call center in preparation for the advanced system.

Bradshaw previously signed a contract in July 2019, upgrading the county’s computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system for emergency services. Towns County 911 Director Marty Roberts explained that the improved system will be custom-tailored to Towns County and that the program is expected to be up and running in late March or early April of 2020. The cost of the enhanced CAD system totals nearly $213,000, a price that Bradshaw defined as a “tremendous amount of money.” The charge is roughly half of the amount that the commissioner expected to spend on the program upon taking office, however, and Bradshaw expressed approval, referencing computer-aided dispatch as “the heartbeat of 911.”

911 dispatchers will receive additional training prior to the introduction of the advanced system, and the hardware and software – with servers, links, and terminals – are included in the modernized package. Roberts said that mobile CADs will be installed in ambulances for the first time in county history, allowing paramedics to view precise locations of medical emergencies on maps while exchanging critical information with the call center. The system will subsequently reduce radio traffic, freeing talk-time over the airwaves. The same company which has provided CAD service in Towns County for more than a decade will supply the innovated program. Union and White counties currently employ a similar system.

Roberts, who described the soon-to-be advanced center as second to none, said that the upgraded phone system will “cut live” simultaneously with the CAD program in early spring, and an open house will be held at the Towns County Emergency Operations Center.

Towns County 911

Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw (left) with 911 Director Marty Roberts at the CAD contract signing.

 

Towns County to upgrade 911 emergency system in 2020

News
Towns County 911

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, joined by Towns County 911 Director Marty Roberts, held a special-called meeting at the courthouse Tuesday, July 2, to sign a contract approving an upgraded 911 computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system for emergency services. “It’s been time to upgrade it,” Commissioner Bradshaw said, adding, “We’re at the point where we’re ready to move forward with it.”

Towns County 911

Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw (left) with 911 Director Marty Roberts

911 Director Roberts explained that the improved system will be custom-tailored to Towns County, and that the program is expected to be up and running in early 2020. The cost of the enhanced system totals nearly $213,000, a price which Bradshaw defined as a “tremendous amount of money.” The charge is roughly half of the amount that the commissioner expected to spend on the program upon taking office, however, and Bradshaw expressed approval, referencing computer-aided dispatch as “the heartbeat of 911.”

911 dispatchers will receive additional training prior to the introduction of the advanced system, and the hardware and software – with servers, links, and terminals – are included in the modernized package. Roberts said that mobile CADs will be installed in ambulances for the first-time in county history, allowing paramedics to view precise locations of medical emergencies on maps, while exchanging critical information with the call center. The system will subsequently reduce radio traffic, freeing talk-time over the airwaves. The same company which has provided CAD service in Towns County for more than a decade will supply the innovated program.

 

Towns County 911 speaks out on fatal BOLO

News
Terry Silvers

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Three months have passed since a fatal crash took the life of Hiawassee resident Terry Silvers, leaving two victims injured, a 911 caller traumatized, and the citizens of Towns County questioning the responsibilty of the authorities involved in the controversial tragedy.

On the evening of Saturday, Feb.23, a “be-on-the-lookout” (BOLO) for a reckless driver was issued by Towns County 911 to the Towns County Sheriff’s Office, a call that went unanswered by Corporal Gregory Joseph – the sole deputy assigned to that particular zone – shortly before the deadly collision occurred.

Towns County 911 Director Marty Roberts recently spoke with FetchYourNews (FYN), clarifying the process employed by the emergency agency. “A BOLO is a BOLO,” Roberts explained. “There isn’t different levels of urgency. The dispatcher handled the Feb. 23 call correctly. The key was when the driver was identified as Silvers. We typically do not dispatch a subject’s name.”

Corporal Joseph had responded to an accident involving Silvers the previous night, allowing the father of six to leave the scene without facing charges, despite testimony from witnesses who claimed the now-deceased was obviously impaired. Silvers, who had a criminal record, was known by local law enforcement to suffer from drug addiction. Furthermore, an additional Silvers’ accident took place a few months prior, with the same deputy in question responding to a vehicle rollover.

Family members of Silvers, as well as the 911 caller, have publicly speculated that because Silvers was identified by dispatchers, Towns County Sheriff’s Office may have opted to disregard the turned-fatal BOLO.

Towns County’s 911 director emphasized that the deputy who bypassed the BOLO was not dispatched by 911 to the possible prowler call in the eastern zone, a call which was adequately covered by a second deputy and a Hiawassee police officer. Early into FYN’s investigation, Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton denied departmental responsibility in a statement issued to the county’s legal organ, shifting focus toward Towns County 911. The sheriff has yet to answer questions posed by investigative reporters.

Although Towns County 911 is its own separate entity, Roberts said that the responsibility to alter the system lies within the Towns County Sheriff’s Office. “We dispatch according to the protocol the department sets,” Roberts stated. “We are always willing to improve.”

11Alive News in Atlanta is scheduled to broadcast their investigation into Towns County Sheriff’s Office involvement in the well-known tragedy this evening, May 26, at 6 p.m.

Additional articles on the subject, including the audio from the viral 911 call, are available by clicking this highlighted link.

AUDIO: 911 tape disputes Towns County Sheriff’s “facts” on fatal accident

 

EMA Director Rickey Mathis retires after 42 years of service

News
Rickey Mathis

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Emotion ran high at the courthouse Tuesday, May 21, as Towns County bid farewell to Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Rickey Mathis after 42 years of dedicated service. Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw was noticeably saddened as he presented a commemorative plaque to the county’s first paramedic. Mathis also served as a coroner for Towns County.

Mathis was joined by Towns County EMA Deputy Director Brandon Walls, Towns County 911 Director Marty Roberts, and Towns County Fire Chief Harold Copeland as he humbly accepted the retirement honor, looked upon with pride by family and friends.

“Towns County owes him,” Commissioner Bradshaw said, describing Mathis as faithful and filled with integrity. “We’re very thankful for Rickey.”

Mathis said that he couldn’t have done the job he did without the men standing behind him as he accepted the distinguished plaque, referring to Walls, Roberts, and Copeland.

 

 

“National Telecommunications Week” recognizes Towns County 911 dispatchers

News
Towns County 911

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Emergency 911 operators are a literal lifeline for those in need of assistance from law enforcement, fire departments, or urgent medical services. Annually adopted, April 14-20 marked “National Telecommunications Week,” a period set aside to recognize the crucial, behind-the-scene duties conducted by dispatchers. Towns County 911 hosted a barbeque dinner, complete with southern side dishes, at the Emergency Operations Center in Young Harris, April 22, in appreciation of the difficult, demanding jobs our local 911 operators perform.

Towns County 911

Towns County 911 Center

Towns County dispatchers serve 12 hour shifts, with two operators assigned per stretch. One dispatcher receives emergency calls while relaying pertinent information to their partner. The second operator “tones” and transmits the details to the appropiate first responder units. At times, dispatchers find themselves juggling multiple calls, all the while remaining calm and composed despite the magnitude of a crisis.

“They’re locked in this room, twelve hours a day, and there’s times when there’s a lull, but when it gets busy, it’s just crazy,” 911 Director Marty Roberts told FYN. “They work really hard, and people kind of forget about them because they’re in here. When we have something like this, when we can recognize them, we let them know that we think about them, and acknowledge that they do a hard job. We’re proud of them. I’ve got some of the best dispatchers in the country. I’d put them up against anybody. They do a wonderful job.”

Deputies from Towns County Sheriff’s Office, personnel from Towns County Emergency Medical Services, and Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw attended the dinner. “I can’t thank 911 enough for all that they do,” Commissioner Bradshaw said. “They truly care. They put their heart and soul into it. They do an outstanding job.”

Feature Photo: (L-R) Towns County 911 Dispatchers: Presley Smith, Christine Vannus, Michelle Hedden, Ashley Walker, Trina Campbell, Robyn Henson, 911 Director Marty Roberts, Phillip Ivester, Karen Abercrombie, Wayne Canterberry

Back to Top

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!