On Monday evening an official told the Surry County Board of Commissioners that a key element at the county’s 911 call center needs to be replaced.
According to Emergency Services Director John Shelton the center’s “controller” will no longer be able to be serviced come January.
Shelton told commissioners that the controller, which is a Sentinel ECS 1000 brand and model, works well for the center. However, given what the situation will become in January, Shelton told commissioners that the county cannot afford to operate with an antiquated controller that can no longer be fixed if it goes down.
“We absolutely can’t take the risk of that piece of equipment failing,” Shelton told commissioners. “We must move forward with this project.”
Shelton described the controller as an “imperative element” in the call center. “Everything is routed through that controller,” commented Shelton. Shelton said that the county’s other call center locations in Mount Airy, Pilot Mountain and Elkin would also go down if the ECS 1000 controller fails.
Shelton added that there is an agreement in place with Yadkin County should all of Surry County’s facilities go off-line. However, Shelton said that with an average of 126 emergency calls per day in Surry County, Yadkin County would have a hard task in keeping up with the workload.
The plan for Surry County is to transfer the operations from the current telephone system to a new wireless system that will be leased from a provider. While the state’s 911 Board has approved funding for the county’s primary call center in Dobson, Shelton and company are still waiting for funding approval from the 911 Board to update the outlying centers.
According to Shelton the initial cost at the Dobson center will equate to about $547,000 in equipment upgrades. After that the county will pay a $10,502 per month lease for use of the network. Shelton said that all of those expenses have been approved and funded by the 911 Board.
However, the 911 Board hasn’t approved about $3,000 in monthly funding to pay for the leases at the three centers run by the county’s municipalities. Shelton said there will also be some relatively small initial equipment expenditures to bring those centers “on-line.”
While Shelton waits on funding approval from Raleigh, he said the effort to update the centers must trudge on. Monday night commissioners gave Shelton the go-ahead to move forward with the update even without having secured funding for the three secondary call centers.
“We can go ahead and start the process to get the primary (center) up and running,” said Shelton. Shelton, in a subsequent interview reassuringly stated that his department would get the money to fund the updates at the outlying centers.
Andy Winemiller is a staff writer at the Mount Airy News. Andy can be reached at (336) 415-4698 or [email protected]