Calls for assistance top 1,600 in December


By Juanice Gray,


That is the number of 911 calls handled in December at the Natchitoches Communications Center (NATCOM). Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office operators answered 1,192 of those calls. Natchitoches Police Department operators took the remaining 424 calls for assistance.

Director Willis Carter said a 2020 goal for the call center is getting map sharing available to all the operators. The center has GIS, or mapping systems, but it is not shareable to the operators. Carter also listed other goals including technology, operations and facility improvements. He would like to see text to 911 implemented, multi-agency training to include fire department, EMS and law enforcement and an independent 911 system.

The 911 system is still operated by two agencies, NPSO and NPD, housed in the NATCOM facility. He would ultimately like to see one agency handle all the calls and working under the same policies and procedures. Another goal is standardized street signs. This led to a discussion on budgeting for and replacing stolen or damaged street signs throughout the parish.

It would require ordinances passed by the parish council to facilitate the requirement. Parish President John Richmond said, in his first meeting on the commission, that he would like to work more closely with NATCOM concerning this matter since it directly relates to public safety.

Commissioners discussed the need for visible street signs when responding to calls for assistance from law enforcement, fire and EMS. The commission is made of these professionals and all agreed that missing signs cause problems, especially in the rural areas. While they do utilize GPS mapping systems, they are not always accurate.

“Telephone CPR” training is underway for 911 operators. This will teach them the proper way to instruct callers when CPR is needed. “It also gives the caller a sense of something being done (while waiting on EMS to arrive)” said EMS Director Larry Atteridge. The door inside the facility that has plagued the center because it did not meet specs and sometimes does not close properly remains an issue.

Architect George Minturn stepped in and confirmed negotiations were underway, with representatives at the facility at the same time of the meeting.

The meeting concluded with election of officers. Chairman Mickey Dove said after three years, he was ready to pass the gavel. Jack McCain nominated Fire Chief John Wynn who was unanimously chosen. Atteridge will remain vice-chair and Mary Jones retains her seat as secretary.