ELKO — The Central Dispatch Board will ask commissioners Wednesday to bring enhanced 911 to Elko County.
A subcommittee of the board worked on a report for a year, but the idea to put enhanced 911 in place has been around for several years, said Elko Police Chief Ben Reed. The report contained support letters, written in 2012, from the cities of Elko, Wells, Carlin and West Wendover.
In 1968, the national emergency number for the country became 911. When someone calls 911, he or she is given access to emergency services through a Public Safety Answering Point. According to the report, there are three PSAPs in Elko County: Elko, West Wendover and Owyhee.
In 2001, the Elko Central Dispatch Administrative Authority was established when several local agencies combined resources. This authority dispatches emergency services including law enforcement, firefighters and ambulance personnel for the county, Carlin, Elko, Jackpot, South Fork Tribal Council, Wells, Elko County Juvenile Probation, Western Shoshone Department of Public Safety, and the REACH-Redwood Empire Air Care Helicopter or air ambulance.
When someone calls 911, the call is forwarded to one of four basic phone lines. No automatic number identification or automatic location identification is received by dispatch because they don’t have the necessary equipment, according to the report. If a dispatcher needs to get this information, he or she must go through a lengthy process with a telecommunications provider’s headquarters to obtain the location, telephone number and account holder name associated with the call.
If enhanced 911 is put in place, dispatch would be given the location, telephone number and account holder name associated with an emergency call on a computer screen. That information would be coordinated with a computer-aided dispatch system and a master street address guide. The MSAG would catalog all existing, valid street names and addresses. When an invalid address is entered into the system at the time of a call, the dispatcher would be alerted immediately.
Reed said many times dispatchers are talking to people who are unable to give their exact address, such as children, intoxicated callers or people being assaulted. If the caller isn’t able to communicate where he or she needs emergency personnel to go, help may not arrive in time, he said.
“All of these things need to be at a dispatcher’s fingertips,” Reed said. “… It’s long overdue and the right thing to do for our community. We’re excited about the opportunity to get it going.”
Assistant County Manager and CFO Cash Minor said the board needed to have a detailed report before it came to the County for authorization because it will take a tax increase to implement the new system.
According to the report, the County would have to pay an estimated one-time cost of $230,000 for capital improvements and then will have an annual estimated cost of $149,919.
Nevada law has a funding mechanism for enhanced 911. County commissioners may enact an ordinance to impose a surcharge on telephone users within the county. Each access line and mobile line would have a surcharge of up to 25 cents and each trunk line’s surcharge would be up to $2.50 per month. It is estimated most mobile telephone users would see an increase of up to $3 annually.
The committee estimated the revenue per year for Elko County would be $170,928 based on the number of telephone lines listed by Frontier Communications in 2015.
“This is just the start,” Minor said. “If the commission decides to go forward they would have to do a whole ordinance process.”
The commissioners also would have to establish an advisory committee to develop a plan to enhance or improve the emergency telephone system and oversee the funds allocated.
County commissioners meet at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in Suite 102 of the Nannini Administration Building at 540 Court St.
“It’s long overdue and the right thing to do for our community. We’re excited about the opportunity to get it going.” — Police Chief Ben Reed