Emergency calls transition to NATCOM Center

Kim Green, Shift Supervisor with NPSO dons a headset and takes her position at the 911 console at 8 a.m. Wednesday, July 31 as the switch is made from the Sheriff’s Office and Police Department call center locations to the all inclusive NATCOM (NATchitoches COMmunications) facility on Public Safety Blvd. in the industrial park. Behind Green, Robert Harper, AT&T Lead Tech on the project, watches intently as the transition is made. At far right 911 Director Willis Carter watches as the switch is made. Photo by Juanice Gray

By Juanice Gray, Editor

After decade and a half in the making, the moment finally arrived.  “We have existing 911 trunks that serve the old center,” said 911 Director Willis Carter as he stood outside the NATCOM call center call room watching the switch go live. A trunk is a dedicated circuit that serves the dispatch equipment and allows only 911 call access. The trunks have the capability of providing all the automatic location information that you don’t get on a typical circuit that services a phone.

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“We have new trunks installed in this center. The short of it is they’re going to take bridging clips off the old trunks and switch them over to the new trunks, then they’re going to test them.” That is the point where 911 calls would begin ringing into the NATCOM center rather than the sheriff’s office or police department. The sheriff’s department and police departments centers were also staffed during the transition in the event calls were rerouted to them rather than NATCOM.

“The CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) system, has access here as well as there. That’s a dual thing, it’s working in both places right now,” Carter said. That measure was in place to ensure no emergency calls were dropped. “As soon as all the tests are complete and everybody is happy and satisfied that everything is working properly, those (locations) will move out here,” Carter said.

The first 911 call answered at the new facility arrived at 9:44 a.m. July 31, , and was processed by the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office Communications division. The center offers state of the art equipment to take and effectively dispatch 911 calls.

Office furniture, including desks, tables and chairs cost $38,666 with $29,773 of that reimbursed by the state. Appliances cost in excess of $15,000 with approximately $12,000 expected to be reimbursed. In addition, the work stations, or consoles, come at a cost of $147,000, however reimbursement is estimated at just over $60,500.

With those figures in mind, the Center is finally operational, and essentially debt free.

The call center portion of the facility is also fire and tornado proof.

The 911 Commission members are Police Chief Micky Dove, Sheriff Victor Jones, Fire Chief John Wynn, Ambulance Services Director Larry Atteridge, Jack McCain, Chris Paige, John Nicholas and Parish President Rick Nowlin.

Carter is director and Bernice Wallace is Commission secretary.

The center is proof that when agencies work together cohesively for the greater good, things can be done-in due time.