Lyon County Commissioners heard a report on the county’s ongoing first responder notification software and radio update projects during an action session Thursday morning.
Emergency 911 Communications Center Director Roxanne Van Gundy said the majority of new technology would not be fully implemented until June, but that steady progress was already being made around the area.
In the meantime, Van Gundy said, contractors are focusing on the county’s smaller law enforcement agencies and more rural towers before beginning construction at the call center located inside the Emporia Police Department.
“It’s kind of a difficult timeline for us,” Van Gundy said. “Since we have to stay at the police department, we really struggle for space. We are going to be working toward being the last on the list for full implementation. We can’t have people working on the center during fire season, especially. That just can’t happen. What they’re going to try to do is put in as much as they can without bothering us in the main room. Then, after the [Dirty Kanza] — probably the second on third week in June — we’re going to shoot for the full installation.
“We’re finishing up work on the Emporia tower first, and then we’re going to work on the Allen/Admire tower. We want to make sure we have that infrastructure settled and ready for the DK, too.”
Van Gundy said she and a few staff had already been able to test out some of the new equipment during a recent county-sponsored trip to the Motorola Customer Staging Facility in Elgin, Illinois. She continued on to share a few of the most exciting new features with commissioners, stating the equipment would do much to cut down on simple, day-to-day complications.
“If we had a responder that was completely new to our county or another nearby area and wasn’t sure where to go on some of the backroads or trails, we have the opportunity now to send a message to their cell phone asking permission to take over their camera,” Van Gundy said. “We could have a person just hold up their phone for us and we could help them find out where they are.”
Besides improved mapping and geographic location services, Van Gundy said the new technology would serve to improve communication between all the county’s citizens, no matter their proficiency in English.
“Right now we have a separate language line that may not really be the best for people involved in true emergencies because you have to talk through another person, and they may not always get the gravity of the situation,” Van Gundy said. “If we’re on the phone with somebody that speaks English as a second language, we can now move to our new map and start texting them in their native language on the fly. This system has 101 different languages we can choose from. It’s not something the telecommunicator has to change. They can click the option, start texting and it will start quoting messages to that person’s phone.”
In other business, Lyon County commissioners also:
• Approved a $141,500 bid for renovations to the domestic hot water plant at the Lyon County Jail
• Approved a Standard Uniform Rental Service Agreement with Cintas to be used by the county’s Facilities Department.