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Firm offers to help county get E911

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

A Lockport-based company has offered to Fayette County its assistance in making Enhanced 911 phone service available in this county.

Mike Gende of GenDesign told county board members at their meeting last Tuesday that his company can provide the path to Enhanced 911, and at a monthly rate that is much lower than what was proposed in two earlier referendums in the county.

Our goal is to help you overcome barriers in making Enhanced 911 phone service available to county residents, Gende said.

Through that service, information provided by residents placing emergency calls is displayed on the police/fire dispatchers computer screen as soon as the call is answered.

That information includes the number, precise address of the caller and medical information of individuals in the household. It can also include information about the presence of any flammable materials on the callers property, which is helpful for firefighters responding to a fire call.

Fayette County currently has basic 911 service. With that service, users of 911 still have to provide all pertinent information to dispatchers.

County residents have been asked twice to approve a referendum for Enhanced 911 service, and both times they voted it down.

In November 1991, a $1.25 monthly phone surcharge was rejected in a 4,520-4,160 vote. In 1995, a $2.55 monthly surcharge was turned down in a 2,092-1,551 vote.

While stating that another referendum vote would be needed, his company would work with the county in proposing a surcharge of around a dollar.

We really control the cost factor in all facets, Gende said. We can bring affordability that we dont think youll find in other places.

He also told board members that his company has patented technology that would allow callers to use text messaging to get police, fire and/or medical personnel to the emergency scene.

That would have come in handy, Gende said, during the Virginia Tech shooting a few months ago, in that students could have silently alerted police in the presence of the shooter.

He encouraged county board members to consider seeking voter approval for Enhanced 911 because of what the service provides to the public.

It is a 100-percent public good, Gende said. Its sole purpose is to save lives.

It is not a 100-percent guarantee that it will always save a life, but it is a 100-percent guarantee to access to the services that can help save that life, he said.

And, Gende said, Enhanced 911 service is much improved over what was available when county residents voted on the service twice before.

The ones put in decades ago were based on old technology, he said. You would be enjoying the best of the new.

Dean Black, who was presiding over the board in his last meeting as a District 7 representative and the board chairman, recommended that the board set up a committee to study the issue.