BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Fannin County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) moved forward with the purchase of technology to improve services and efficiency when it comes to public safety.
Fannin County Deputy Director of EMA/E-911 Patrick Cooke addressed the Board of Commissioners (BOC) at the Jan. 23 meeting explaining the need for new technology that would allow the option of Global Positioning System (GPS) location on calls coming to the 911 center from cell phone users.
“It will allow us to send a message to any cell phone, and we will be able to get the exact GPS coordinates off that cell phone,” Cooke told the board, “and we will also be able to communicate back and forth with pictures and other data messages.”
This new feature will be an add-on to the current 911 computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system and would come with a price tag of $5,258. There would be a annual maintenance fee in the future. The price of maintenance for the second year would be $4,725.
Fannin County BOC Chairman Stan Helton asked Cooke for examples from the past where this kind of technology would have been beneficial. Cooke immediately cited that there are numerous calls from hikers who have become lost in the woods and stated that GPS location would save time in these instances.
Cooke recalled a specific incident of a hiker last year who was suffering from a stroke while hiking the Benton MacKaye Trail. Cooke felt that had this technology been in use during the time of this call, it could have saved approximately two hours in locating the individual.
The new GPS location feature works by the caller responding to a text message sent to their phone from the 911 center. Once the caller accepts the link provided in the text, dispatchers are able to use GPS location from the cell phone to pinpoint the caller’s location.
The BOC voted unanimously to allow the purchase of this program, with Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson stating, “It sounds well worth it.”
Once the purchase transaction is complete, the new GPS location program will take about a month to implement.
Cooke also presented the BOC with bids for new equipment for a mobile command unit. The Fannin County EMA had been awarded a Homeland Security Grant in 2017, and the purchase of the mobile command equipment would be reimbursed through this grant.
Fannin County EMA Director Robert Graham confirmed previously with the board that when applying for the grant, a list of equipment had been given and the grant would fully fund the list.
Cooke presented the board with three quotes. The highest bid came in at $27,602 and the lowest bid received was $20,526.
“We did receive three different quotes,” Cooke said, giving his opinion, “and we see no reason why we cannot go with the cheapest of the three. It is also the more local of the three companies.”
Post 2 Commissioner Larry Joe Sosebee questioned the qualifications of the company with the lowest bid, and Cooke replied the EMA had worked with the company before and had been satisfied with the results.
Helton motioned for the purchase of the new equipment for the EMA, Sosebee seconded the motion, and the board approved unanimously to award the project to the lowest bidder, Mountain Communications, Inc.
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