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PSAP


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Left: Pictured is Conway County Judge Jimmy Hart, who led the effort to consolidate emergency services in his county and moved the opera- tions to a more secure building. Right: State Reps. Scott Baltz and Dan Hillman prepare for a joint meeting of the Legislative Blue Ribbon Com- mittee on Local 911 Systems and the Senate and House City, County and Local Affairs committees during AAC’s annual conference in August.


can best be put to use within the state. “I think there’s a couple of exciting things out there,” she said.


“One is texting to 911, definitely something that’s important. I think we’re starting to see that come into the state slowly. Te generation we live in, the world we live in, is much more text- oriented than we are picking up the phone and talking. Also, the whole idea of Next Generation 911 and all the things it has available to the state. I think that’s an excit- ing piece of technology that, again, is going to take some money; that’s going to be an expensive piece of the next step.” Next Generation 911


is a wireless telephone service that allows dispatchers to receive emergency communica- tions by text message. Photos and videos can be texted to dispatchers to help them better respond to an emergency, and


work. You can have a half-million dollar fire truck or a $100,000 Hummer for the local police department, but if you don’t have good communications, you don’t have much.” — Jimmy Hart


“We all realize this, we are a small county, we’ve got to be very dependent on each other to make it work be- cause that’s the only way it really does


a dispatcher in one jurisdiction would be able to easily share the data with a dispatcher in another jurisdiction if that call needed to be transferred. However the expense of implementing such technology is getting more problematical to handle, in part because the tax on land-line telephones that supports 911 services has been producing less and less revenue every year, because more and more Arkansans are cutting the cord and only own cell phones, which have a much lower user fee of only 65 cents per month. Tat was raised from 50 cents in 2009. According to the Report of the Legislative Arkansas Blue Ribbon Committee on Local 911 Systems, released in December 2014, the natioanl average of wireless user fees is 86 cents. Te Blue Ribbon Committee’s


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report notes that, according to the Federal Communications Commission, there are 33 million fewer land lines in the United States today compared to just four years ago. Te report states, “Without the proper funding stream, the answering points [PSAPs] will not be able to keep up with the demand of 21st Century technology integration.” With that revenue stream shrinking, officials like Hart have to find ways to pay for oper- ations and improvements to PSAPs, whose proper functioning can actu- ally mean the difference between life and death for a resident. Conway County’s new facility is subsidized by the county and all of its municipali- ties. Te county’s share is about $200,000 per year, said Hart, and Morrilton, Opello, Plumerville, and Menifee kick in, as well. So does MedTech, which


Conway County Judge


provides ambulance service in the county. 911 services in the state of Arkansas are meant to be self- sufficient financially, but unfortunately, revenue streams have not kept pace with expenses. Decreasing landline revenue and a stagnant rate for cell phones have combined to create the user fee shortfalls. Many counties subsidize 911 operations with general revenues. “We all realize this, we are a small county, we’ve got to be very dependent on each other to make it work because that’s the only way it really does work,” he said. “You can have a half-million dollar fire truck or a $100,000 Hummer for the local police department, but if you don’t have good communications, you don’t have much.”


COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2015


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