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Whitfield County 9-1-1 Center Upgraded

DALTON, Ga. -- Eight years after it opened, the Whitfield County 911 Center has received a technology upgrade.

"We started this center (on) December 27, 1999," said Ann Walters, Whitfield 911 director.

Ms. Walters added, "Technology in itself has changed a lot (since then.)"

For the past four or five years, Ms. Walters said she has gone before the County Commission to ask for money to improve the 911 center's communications system. The computers sometimes crashed. And, because the phones and radios were connected to the computer, the 911 center occasionally lost multiple lines of communications all at once.

When that happened, Ms. Walters said, "It was scary."

On Aug. 13, the County Commission approved $760,000 worth of improvements to the 911 Center -- from new computers to ergonomic workstations that allow 911 operators to sit or stand during their 12-hour shifts.

"This was a very big project," Ms. Walters said.

The computers were installed Dec. 9. These computers eventually will be able to map callers' locations so dispatchers more easily can give rescue workers directions to emergencies.

The 911 Center will have the computerized mapping capability after the county finishes its "addressing" project.

That yearlong addressing project will find Global Positioning System, or GPS, locations for every structure in Whitfield County. The data then will be integrated into the county computer system, said Bob McLeod, Whitfield County Administrator.

"At night time and times of low visibility, it's difficult to find a structure without ... an accurate system," Mr. McLeod has explained about the new technology.

The upgraded technology at the 911 Center will be a benefit to all emergency rescue workers, said Whitfield County Fire Chief Carl Collins.

"It should make it better for all of us, speed things up getting there and all," Chief Collins said.

For the County Commission, improving emergency services is a priority, Commissioner Mike Cowan said.

"That's what county government is charged to do -- provide for the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens," Mr. Cowan said.

E-mail Erin Fuchs at efuchs@timesfreepress.com

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