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Annexation to prompt changes in emergency response coverage

Brookhaven and Lincoln County officials are hoping for a smoothtransition in 911 emergency response services once the city’sannexation takes effect.

“When this takes place it could be a day or two delay that we’dhave to transfer to the city. Usually it’s pretty quick onsomething like this,” said Lincoln County Sheriff’s DepartmentCaptain Dustin Bairfield.

All of Lincoln County’s dispatch currently runs through a systemcalled Positron, which registers an address and the correspondingagencies that would handle an emergency at that address when a 911call comes in. For instance, the screen shows the law enforcementagency that would respond to an emergency, as well as the firedepartment or volunteer fire department that would respond in caseof a fire.

Questions arose about how the system would be updated once theannexation goes through. But according to Sheriff’s Departmentofficials, it won’t be a problem at all.

“Positron and BellSouth will handle all that,” said Bairfield.”They’ll get the order and handle the rezoning.”

The order will come from the city through county administrator’soffice, and will be a part of the extensive planning that is goinginto the massive project that is the annexation.

“We’ll make sure the city is aware of the addresses that are inthe annexation area. We’ll probably have to get with the city andwork out a plan,” said County Administrator David Fields. “We’llhave to work together and make sure that transition goes assmoothly as possible.”

Keith Rushing, manager of the west office of the Brookhaven PostOffice, said city residents get their addresses from the postoffice. Annexation area addresses, which have been assigned by thecounty’s 911 coordinator, will have to be incorporated into citylistings to ensure response by the proper agency.

The annexation is expected to take effect May 6 unless a groupof objectors files a petition requesting a rehearing before thestate Supreme Court, which approved the city’s annexation April5.

Officials are also exploring annexation’s impact on 911operations in with regard to cellular telephones.

The Positron system is currently in Phase I, which only locatesthe closest cell tower when a 911 call is made from a cellulartelephone. According to sheriff’s department officials, efforts areunder way to upgrade to the Phase II system, which would be able tolocate the cell phone to within 300 feet of where the call ismade.

“We’re getting the pieces together right now,” said Fields.

The shift to Phase II also involves the county’s move to adigital mapping service. The primary goal of digital mapping willbe for tax purposes, but will also be able to be used for theemergency response needs.

“Before we do 911, we’ll get all the parcels drawn in for taxes,so we’re still in the works on the software,” Fields said. “We’rewaiting on our appraiser and mapper, and last I heard he hopes tohave it done by the end of this year.”

Fields said as soon as the mapping is done for taxes, it will beintegrated into the dispatch system.