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TMCNet:  Anderson County Opens New 911 Unified Emergency Communications Center

[January 15, 2013]

Anderson County Opens New 911 Unified Emergency Communications Center

GILBERT, S.C. --(Business Wire)--

In August 2012, the Anderson County Emergency Services Division deployed Avtec's Scout™ radio dispatch consoles to control emergency communications across 780 square miles of mountainous terrain in the upstate region of South Carolina. Its service area includes more than 300 square miles of shoreline on Lake Hartwell and supports the region's nearly 200,000 residents. The call center answers more than 500,000 calls a year because of its proximity to the I-85 Corridor, the region's terrain, and accidents on Lake Hartwell, which is a major tourist attraction in the area.

"We handle calls about everything from heart attacks to gunshots, and car accidents to hazardous chemical spills. We also support requests for helicopter support and boat deployments on Lake Hartwell," said Deputy Chief Taylor Jones, who oversees the Anderson County Emergency Services Division.

Anderson County's new call center is the result of a catastrophic lightning strike in July 2011 that struck two radio towers and damaged 80 percent of the center's equipment, causing nearly $3 million in damage. A grand opening for the center took place on October 24.

"The cost to the taxpayers was zero," said Rusty Burns, Anderson County's administrator. "We watched our pennies, we watched our dimes, and the fiscal impact is that we saved the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars while providing our community with the best 911 center in the Southeast United States."

The project was funded trough the South Carolina Insurance Reserve Fund, and is expected to save the county $191,000 annually, said Burns.

"911 centers have to work when nothing else does, so our biggest concern was operational dependability. We conducted research across the nation and chose Avtec consoles because of their reliability. With the new Scout Voice over IP dispatch system, there are no single points of failure," said Jones.

The Anderson County Emergency Services Division relies on 17 Scout console workstations from Avtec to support radio communications for the 100 emergency services employees who staff the call center each day. An additional four Scout workstations were installed in December of 2012, and will be used for training and in emergencies, such as storms, when extra dispatchers are called in to take 911 calls.

The Anderson County Sheriff's Department uses P25-compliant (Project 25) Kenwood TK-5910 conventional radios that connect wirelessly to the Palmetto 800 (PAL 800) radio system, offering full-featured control from the Scout consoles. Built in the 1990s, PAL 800 is South Carolina's statewide emergency communications system and is based on a Motorola (News - Alert) 800 MHz trunked network that has expanded into one of the largest systems in the nation. It provides interoperable communications for nearly 500 state, county, and municipal agencies.

Captain Matthew Littleton manages the technical services department for the Anderson County Emergency Services Division. He has served as a member of the PAL 800 advisory committee and was instrumental in defining the vision behind integrating the various technologies in a safe, reliable, and cost-effective manner. "One of the big things we wanted was to have a call center that was built on a true IP architecture and open standards. This allowed us to do away with leased phone lines, and put in our own private line, which will save our taxpayers thousands of dollars each year," said Littleton.

"The Avtec Scout console provides our dispatchers with an easy-to-use, completely customizable graphic user interface, which results in fewer errors. This means that 911 calls get dispatched faster," said Steve McDade, Anderson County 911 operations director. "In emergency settings, you're always racing against time, so the faster we can dispatch, the better the outcome. Avtec is the heartbeat of our center."

About the Anderson County 911 Unified Emergency Communications Division

The Anderson County 911 Center operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is responsible for answering all 911 and non-emergency calls for the citizens of Anderson County, S.C. Call center personnel also dispatch police, sheriff, fire, highway patrol, and emergency medical services for the cities and communities of Anderson, Belton, Honea Path, Iva, Williamston and all rural areas of Anderson County. To learn more, visit www.andersoncountyes.com/911.

About Avtec, Inc.

Headquartered in South Carolina, Avtec, Inc. provides Internet Protocol (IP) dispatch console solutions for the public safety, transportation, utility, business and government markets. For more than 30 years, customers have chosen Avtec's award-winning technology for their mission-critical dispatch centers. There are thousands of Scout Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) consoles installed worldwide. Visit www.avtecinc.com to learn more.


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