Middle Flint Regional E911 Communications Center



August 19, 2011

The Middle Flint Regional E9-1-1 Authority was created in July 2003 for the purpose of providing enhanced 9-1-1 service to seven counties in central and west central Georgia. The counties of Dooly, Macon, Marion, Schley, Sumter, Taylor and Webster entered into an intergovernmental agreement forming the 9-1-1 Authority and appointing a Board of Directors to oversee the creation of a regional 9-1-1 center. The board of directors is comprised of representatives from each of the counties. They are appointed by the counties’ board of commissioners and serve a term of three years. All those appointed to the board serve voluntarily and are not compensated for their service. An eighth county, Talbot County has recently been accepted into the region and will begin enhanced 9-1-1 service by the end of the year. 

Prior to the creation of the regional 9-1-1 authority, no single county in the area could feasibly afford its own 9-1-1 center. Several years prior to 2003, Sumter, Macon, Dooly and other counties had conducted studies to investigate the possibility of enhanced 9-1-1 service in their respective communities. They invariably all came to the conclusion that they lacked the necessary financial resources to develop and maintain an enhanced 9-1-1 system. In February 2001, the Middle Flint Regional Development Center hosted a regional meeting of officials who were interested in investigating the development of a multi-county E9-1-1 system. The results of that meeting (and many more to follow) led to the creation of the Middle Flint Regional E9-1-1 Authority. After the signing of the intergovernmental agreements in July 2003, work was begun in earnest on the creation of the 9-1-1 center. A site was chosen in Ellaville, GA which proved to be centrally located for all seven counties and by April 2005 the first 9-1-1 calls were being received at the new facility. By September 2005, all seven counties in the region were receiving enhanced 9-1-1 service.

With the addition of Talbot County, Middle Flint Regional E9-1-1 serves eight counties covering a geographical area of approx. 2800 square miles and a population of 94,800 (2010 census). Collectively there are 21 law enforcement agencies, 41 fire departments (95% volunteers) and eight EMS agencies. Our staff answers all 9-1-1 calls for the area and dispatches to each of the agencies in all eight counties. In 2010 the center answered 84,500 9-1-1 calls resulting in approx. 60,000 dispatched incidents. Approximately 65% of all 9-1-1 calls are received via cell phone and that figure will continue to increase each year. Enhanced 9-1-1 indicates the ability to be able to locate the caller during an emergency. When we receive a call on a land line (wired), the telephone company displays the name and address of the caller’s account to our dispatchers on their computer screen.

When we receive a 9-1-1 call via cell phone, we have the ability to locate the cell phone caller on our mapping system by locating the signal from the phone company. With the appropriate software we can “zoom in” on a caller’s location on our map to determine where to dispatch the appropriate agency. Cell phone location is not always 100% accurate. Factors such as distance from the cell tower, signal strength and whether or not the caller is in a moving vehicle all play a part in accurate location.  

The staff at the Center consists of 24 dispatchers, a director, an operations manager, a full-time accounting clerk and part-time financial assistant. The dispatch staff is divided into four shifts with six per shift. The shifts are comprised of a shift supervisor, a senior operator and four communications officers. The shift supervisor manages the work force and assigns the call taking and dispatch functions. Everyone on shift is a “call taker” and a dispatcher, including the shift supervisor. The shifts work 6 a.m. – 6 p.m., two days on, three days off, two on and two off on a rotating basis. Every three months the day shift goes to nights and the night shift to days. Every employee performing dispatch functions must become POST (Peace Officer Standards & Training) certified, pass a 40 hour Basic Communications Officer Training course at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth, certify with GCIC (GA Crime Information Center), receive certification in Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) and qualify in Red Cross basic aid training along with Security & Integrity training. Each employee hired is required to complete the majority of the above tasks within the first six months of training. Other certifications and specialized training along with public safety continuing education is made available to the dispatch staff during their tenure at the 9-1-1 Center.

Funding for the operation of the Center is accomplished through the collection of 9-1-1 telephone surcharge fees and contributions from each of the counties in the region. All telephone companies serving customers in the region collect a monthly fee of $1.50 per month per phone line (wired, wireless and VOIP). By Georgia law, these fees are forwarded to the 9-1-1 Center and are used for keeping the Center up to date and functioning properly. The collection of the surcharge fees accounts for approximately 85% of the operations budget for the center. The counties in the region contribute the other 15% of the budget on a pro-rata share determined by the revenue collections in each county which reflects the amount of traffic handled by the center. The per capita cost for running our regional E9-1-1 Center is approx. $20 as compared to a statewide average of $35 per person.

Middle Flint Regional E9-1-1 is the largest regional 9-1-1 Center in the state of Georgia. Other centers serve larger populations, but none are as large in terms of area or number of agencies served. The existence and functioning of this Center is a testament to all those individuals who worked together throughout the region to make this a reality and to insure that enhanced 9-1-1 would be available to all its citizens.

Clayton Freeman




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