The proposed updating of Hall County’s Emergency 911 system, as outlined in the Sunday issue of The Times, offers a golden opportunity to install an emergency call system which really meets the needs of area residents and travelers.
This was made clear by the recent unfortunate accidental drowning death of a newspaper supervisor who was delivering papers for a sick employee when her car went into a containment pond in a neighboring county. The present 911 locator system stops at county lines in many cases. This drowning death occurred while a 911 dispatcher could not locate the victim, though she gave her exact location on her final cell phone call, and anyone could have probably found her via GPS or Google maps. Sadly, though, most 911 locator systems use outmoded analog technology, and cannot do what you could do on your cellphone.
In the aftermath of that avoidable tragedy, investigative reporting has found that Georgia diverted substantial 911 enhancement federal funds into the general government budget, which may or may not be illegal but was most certainly unwise. And while our neighboring states applied for, and received, special emergency grants to upgrade 911, Georgia did not even apply.
Now, however, at least in Hall County there will be substantial SPLOST funds channeled toward improving the 911 system here. As a first step in the implementation of that project, professionals should be utilized to develop a system which does not stop at the Hall County line. There are plenty of models available which avoid that particular pitfall, and one of them needs to be implemented here. Otherwise, needless tragedies such as that recent drowning death are likely to continue, when they could indeed be prevented.
Dr. Eugene F. Elander