MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 26, 2013

911 Trust Authority responsible for call center

By Rebecca Walkup
Nonprofit Buzz

— In 2008, Muskogee County and the city of Muskogee created an agreement to coordinate emergency response services. When the taxpayers voted to fund a combined 911 call center through a 911 service fee on all phones in the county, the Muskogee City County 911 Trust Authority was formed. The not-for-profit entity is governed by an 11-member board representing city and county interests and is responsible for operations of the call center which opened in July 2011.

• The call center provides dispatch service for all emergency agencies in Muskogee county and also receives all non-emergency calls for the agencies including 17 fire departments, 12 law enforcement agencies, and one ambulance service. The mission of the call center is to eliminate duplication of services and share information among agencies for quicker and more coordinated responses. Before the 911 call center opened, emergency dispatch services were operated at five sites throughout the county.

• The new center is staffed by dispatchers from the five original sites, who serve as the core of the center’s operations. Darryl Maggard, 911 center coordinator, said the dispatchers are the ones who made the call center happen with their dedication. When the new center opened, the dispatchers had to make the transitions to new technology, new operating procedures, and a new employer all at once. A total of 40 dispatchers work at the call center, with six to 11 staffing the facility at any one time as call volume demands.

• Maggard notes that another factor that helped make the center a success was the high level of cooperation already existing among many of the agencies in the county. To ensure that the agencies realized an ownership of the center an advisory board of emergency service personnel from each agency was formed at the start of the project. The 14-member board meets regularly to ensure that center operations remain responsive to the changing needs of the agencies.

• The center creates a single point of contact for all emergency response agencies in the county, resulting in better call management and more immediate response of agencies to an incident. Because all agencies are dispatched from a single location, there is no longer a delay as there was when a single agency received the initial call and then made separate calls to other agencies that needed to respond.

• The combined call center made enhanced 911 calls a reality for the whole county. This enables dispatchers to determine a caller’s location even if the caller is unable to provide it. It also helps determine whether multiple calls are being received about a single incident so resources can be deployed efficiently.

• Centralized records management systems and advanced communications technology, such as 800 megahertz radio systems, have enabled a high level of interoperability, helping agencies across the county work together more effectively.  

For more information about the 911 Authority Trust, contact Darryl Maggard at (918) 682-6911 or darryl@mcc911.org.

To recommend an organization or program for an upcoming column, reach Rebecca Walkup at (918) 683-4600 or rwalkup@nbn-nrc.org.