Making 911 work better

Parish Communications Dist. improvements are under way

BY MARCELLE HANEMANN

THE DAILY NEWS

FRANKLINTON n The Washington Parish Communications District has reportedly made significant improvement to the parish's 911 system by replacing all of the original equipment with a new, state-of-the-art system.

Currently, 911 emergency calls are answered by the Bogalusa Police Department, Franklinton Police Department and Washington Parish Sheriff's Office, depending on where they originate, with the Bogalusa Fire Department reportedly providing a secondary answering point.

Now, a single integrated 911 telephone system links the answering points so that if any dispatcher is overloaded with calls and unable to answer, the next incoming call will be automatically redirected to a backup agency. The new routing system reduces the chance that an emergency call will not be answered, said James Coleman, WPCD chairman.

Additionally, all dispatchers can talk to one another via the 911 telephone system, even if the commercial telephone system is unavailable due to a catastrophic overload, such as the one that occurred after the chemical release in Bogalusa in Oct. of 1995.

Coleman said the new equipment, which became operational in July, has already proved beneficial.

"The board of the Washington Parish Communications District congratulates all three law enforcement agencies on their ability to both master a new 911 computer system and at the same time to significantly reduce the time it takes to answer 911 telephone calls," he said.

"Based on computer records, which are now being reviewed on a monthly basis…, the Bogalusa Police Department has reduced its 911 call answering time from five seconds to less than one second. And both the Franklinton Police Department and the Washington Parish Sheriff's Office have cut their call answering times in half. Those agencies should be commended for their hard work."