State Legislators Review Problems With 911 Systems In Arkansas

Aug 21, 2014

Lawmakers review issues with local 911 systems Thursday.
Credit Sarah Whites-Koditschek

State lawmakers are looking into problems with 911 systems across Arkansas. On Thursday, a legislative committee reviewed technological and staffing discrepancies between county systems.

State Senator Missy Irvin from Mountian View said some 911 call centers are run by police or fire departments. Others are run by volunteers that can’t consistently track the locations of incoming callers.

"We have to look at equipment needs but we have to look at bottom line of public safety [so that] when calls are coming in, are they clearly identified as to where to locate that victim,” said Irvin.

Recently she got a call after an a communication breakdown in Baxter County that led to a fatality. 911 dispatchers could not locate an injured person on a curvy rural road. 

“There was a 911 call that was put in but it was actually transferred to the wrong place and they couldn’t it was actually a lack of communication and that caused a fatality,” said Irvin.

Ronald Helterbrand is a sales consultant for Geo-Comm, a company that connects public safety departments to GPS systems. According to Helterbrand, state data can be used to develop a uniform system for locating callers in distress.

“Really, a key primary piece of that is locating the caller and being able to provide that location to the call taker or dispatcher. So, the phone system, whether it be a land-line or a wireless needs to have the ability to provide that information. All that information comes from a database the state of Arkansas is actually working on,” said Helterbrand.

Earlier this month, Little Rock Police chief Kenton Buckner said the city’s 911 system misses some calls because of delays in how they are patched to the department. Lawmakers hope to develop legislation to address the issue in next year’s session.