At the general election about a month from now, Fayette County residents will be asked for the third time to approve a telephone surcharge to fund emergency phone service. We’re hoping that the third time is a charm.
We’ve given residents information prior to the first two votes on the issue, and we will be doing that again prior to the Nov. 4 election.
But we’re hoping that residents also take the initiative to gather information on their own and ask questions.
The perfect opportunity to learn about the Enhanced 911 referendum will come on Monday, Oct. 13, at a public hearing at 6 p.m. in the large courtroom on the second floor of the Fayette County Courthouse.
At that hearing, the Fayette County Board committee headed by Chairman Steve Knebel will explain the service and all of its benefits. Committee members, with assistance from an E911 coordinator from another county who served as the group’s adviser, will also answer questions.
At the general election, county residents will be asked to approve a monthly surcharge of $2.75 on the bills for their landline phones.
We’ve supported the measure in the past, and we do so again this time.
We’re recommending the passage of the referendum because it’s a proven tool to save lives and limit property damage.
With Enhanced 911 service, residents provide county officials with information about themselves, including their address and medical information about family members, and about their property, including the presence of hazardous materials. That information is fed into the E911 computer system, and it pops up on the police and fire dispatcher’s computer screen when a 911 call is made.
“Even if you can’t talk, they will know exactly where you are and where to send the emergency personnel,” Fayette County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Steve Koehler said at a voter education meeting in St. Elmo recently.
Currently, without the system, the caller – who is often either seriously ill or emotionally flustered because of his or her emergency – is required to provide all pertinent information, including the location of the emergency and directions to that location.
Many times in that situation, emergency personnel such as police officers, firefighters or emergency medical personnel are delayed because incomplete or incorrect information is given. Those seconds and minutes can translate into the loss of property or, worse yet, the loss of life.
What better way to spend $2.75 each month? That’s less than a dime a day.
“Is half a tank of gas a year worth a life?” Koehler said at the St. Elmo meeting.
While we plan to provide information about the service in issues prior to the Nov. 4 election, we’d like you to hear about the service first-hand and have any questions answered by those who know about it. That’s why it’s vital to attend the public hearing on Monday, Oct. 13.