By Jake Old
The Wilson County Emergency Communications 911 Board unanimously voted Monday to support co-location of dispatchers from all county and municipal emergency and law enforcement agencies in a centralized dispatch location.
Although there are several options for centralized dispatch, the board made a move toward using the existing 911 facility at 1611 W. Main St. as the site for centralized dispatch by voting to authorize the 911 executive committee, emergency communications Director Karen Moore and 911 board member Terry Ashe to negotiate with a civil engineer to determine what work would need to be performed to get the existing building to a point to where all agencies could house dispatchers there, and to have questions about the process answered.
Board members discussed possibly modifying the building to house all dispatchers and equipment, then potentially adding on to the building to house administrative offices, as such offices could be less expensive to build.
Board member David Hale made motions to approve co-location with other agencies and to look into modifying the existing 911 building to be that location.
Other options would include building a new facility and finding an existing building that could be bought and repurposed. Board members determined those options would likely be more expensive.
The 911 building has 2,448 square feet of space, Moore said during the meeting Monday. To house dispatchers from every agency, which includes 911, Wilson County Emergency Management Agency, Wilson County Sheriff’s Office and police and fire departments from Lebanon and Mt. Juliet, as well as administrative space, it could take more than twice that space, Moore estimated.
Board member Larry Stone said he wanted to be sure that, as the board moves forward with co-location, every agency would be in a position to handle further growth in Wilson County.
“Wilson County has seen incredible growth in just the last 10 years, and we should be ready for more growth,” Stone said. “I don’t just want to put a Band-Aid on this thing.”
Other board members shared Stone’s sentiment, and they agreed that as they move forward with the process, they should keep further growth in mind.
The board met in a work session Friday to discuss the matter with heads of various local agencies. Several of those agencies were represented again at the Monday meeting when a vote was taken.
The board has discussed the topic in several other meetings, but Monday’s votes were the first actions the board has taken to move forward with centralized dispatch.
WEMA Director Joey Cooper, Sheriff Robert Bryan and officials from Lebanon and Mt. Juliet police departments have all voiced support for centralized dispatch.
Hale said he did not know when or about how soon dispatchers from all agencies could be in a common location.
“We’re trying to move as fast as we can,” he said. “I would say we are now officially a work in progress, and that’s something we couldn’t say before.”
In other business, Moore, in her report to the board, told them pursuit of a new computer-aided dispatch system is “on the back burner” due to a larger focus needed to be placed on moving toward co-locating dispatchers with other agencies. Emergency communications will need a new system at some point regardless, she said.
Moore also notified the board that the sheriff’s office has interest in dispatchers attending a national emergency communications conference to learn more as the agencies prepare to move forward with co-locating. The sheriff’s office will pay for plane and hotel tickets, and it will apply for a scholarship grant to cover the cost of convention attendance. Otherwise, the 911 Board may vote to help with funding. The topic will be discussed further next month.
The board also:
• authorized the purchase of a backup recording system for calls.
• voted to move expiring CD funds into a new account.
• Ashe made a motion for the board to sponsor the National Junior High Rodeo Finals in Lebanon this summer for $1,000. It failed due to a lack of a second on the motion.
• Ashe applauded Moore and her staff for their work in applying address numbers to buildings in Wilson County.
“I’ve never heard a single complaint, and I don’t think you get the recognition you deserve for that,” Ashe said.