This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
“I feel like what we need is more interop- erability, and that’s going to be one of the specifics we look at if we’re going to do this procurement situation, where every PSAP in the state is interoperable. That’s a big key right now , because some of them aren’t.”

— Scott Baltz State Representative

Dispatchers cover the phone lines at the Conway County PSAP in Morrilton. Two dispatchers are on duty at all times.

households a Safety Profile that contains any information they want 911 and first responders to know in the event of an emer- gency. When the resident dials 911, his profile is immediately available to the dispatcher providing valuable details to facilitate a fast and effective response. “We’ve gone out and talked to groups, to senior groups, taken it into schools, handed out literature,” he said. “We’ve tried to encourage people, but there’s always the fear of cybersecurity issues. People are concerned about their data. “Te data is very secure; no one has access to it except during a 911 call,” Beavers added. “But people are concerned, and I understand it.” Technology is another area the Blue Ribbon Committee delved into, and both Beavers and Hart recognize that whatever they have in place today will likely change in the not-too-distant future. Such upgrades are definitely on the mind of Rep. Scott Baltz,

who represents District 61 in Randolph County. As a former justice of the peace for Randolph County, he understands the lawmaking and budgetary challenges at the local level; and as a 30-year firefighter in Pocahontas, including 10 years as fire chief, he’s had hands-on experience with how 911 systems im- pact lives of both residents and emergency responders. And as a member of the Blue Ribbon Committee, he thinks that one of the best ways to help local systems upgrade is through standardization — in this case, by getting the state Of- fice of Procurement involved. “We’re looking at a possible state contract to acquire PSAP equipment,” he said of the Blue Ribbon Committee, on which he serves. “I know what those things cost, and I feel like what we need is more interoperability, and that’s going to be one of the specifics we look at if we’re going to do this procurement situation, where every PSAP in the state is interoperable. Tat’s a big key right now, because some of them aren’t.” And that includes those in his home county of Randolph and


ties’ 911 operations. Of course, the dreaded C-word — con- solidation — tends to raise hackles in Arkansas, whether you’re talking about school districts or government agencies. But Baltz believes it’s a conversation worth having. In Randolph and Lawrence counties, for example, the individual centers are in cramped, repurposed quarters with inadequate space for existing equipment and personnel, not to mention room for expansion. Tey’re looking at a potential space at Williams Baptist College in Walnut Ridge, which would provide not only more space for the dispatch center but also classrooms for training. Which brings us to another priority the Blue Ribbon Committee would like to see addressed: training. “What we’d like to do is [provide for] standardized training of dispatchers,” Baltz said. “Tere’s a standard for EMS, for law enforcement, for firefighters. We want to do the same for dispatch, also.” Indeed, standardization may be the byword for anything to do with PSAPs in coming years, acknowledged Tina Owens, deputy director of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, which has been working with the Blue Ribbon Committee during its evaluation of the state’s PSAP network. “I think a lot of the things you can read from that report are our thoughts, as well,” said Owens, who’s been with ADEM for 19 years. “We have a wide variety of technology at our different PSAPs. We have some that are aging, as do all state agencies. We have some that are better off financially and able to upgrade equipment more often. Funding, of course, is the preventing mechanism, as it is with almost anything.” From ADEM’s perspective as a coordination agency, she said, a top goal would be having PSAPs around the state cleave to the same standard, receive the same training, and follow the same guidelines. Whether that necessarily means consolidation within, or among, counties is a harder question, she said. “I think there’s a little bit of a positive answer on both sides of that [issue],” Owens said. “Sure, if there are four entities doing the same job in one area and you can pare that down to one or two, there will be a cost savings, that’s a given. I think at the local level, though, as a state we have to be cautious just giving a blanket rec- ommendation like that. You’re looking at some very small munici- palities and that could affect their economy, multiple things.” So ADEM’s priorities are in other areas. Standardized train- ing, for one, and determining how new technologies out there

See “PSAP” on Page 36 >>> 35

neighboring Lawrence County. “If there’s an accident in Lawrence County and it pings Ran- dolph County’s tower and we start the process, then transfer it to them, they have to start over,” Baltz said. “Tat takes several minutes to get the information that those folks need to get help.” He also sees potential advantages in merging the two coun-

ndards statewide

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64