MOUNT VERNON — Knox County 911 Operations Director Laura Webster informed county commissioners Thursday that the new Zuercher CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) system will be ready to go live July 15. Zuercher, which was acquired by CentralSquare Technologies, installed the county’s new phone system in November 2018.
CAD training for county employees involved in emergency response will start in late June and is to be held in the Mount Vernon Police Department training room, she said. Training sessions will last eight hours and there will be multiple sessions held throughout the training period.
Training will include county 911 dispatchers — 18 of whom are full-time, and two who are part-time — along with Knox County Sheriff’s officers and Mount Vernon police. County jail personnel, and records departments for both the sheriff and MVPD, will also receive training. So will Fredericktown Police personnel.
Thus far, Webster has been trained as has Bailey Reed, 911 operations assistant, in addition to two 911 dispatch and a dispatcher from another shift. The 911 dispatchers already have the new system on their computers so they can take a look when they have free moments to better prepare for training.
“We’ve had a quick training, where we’ve been able to show (other trainers) here’s how you create a (911) call, here’s how you add people to the call,” Webster said.
During his technology update before commissioners earlier this week, county IT Director Kyle Webb said he and his staff are in the process of installing new Mobile Data Terminals (MDTs) for sheriff’s cruisers, which he described as rugged laptops quickly able to perform law enforcement functions.
Although fire departments in Knox County will not have direct access to Zuercher CAD, they will be able to use their own selected software to interface with the system, Webster said. Not all fire departments use the same reporting software. The county 911 system paid $10,000 to make the interfaces happen, and all fire departments in the county agreed to pay a user fee of about $1,500 except for two. Those are the Monroe Township and Centerburg fire departments.
Commissioner Bill Pursel said the Monroe Township Fire Department, which is still relatively new after having severed its contract with College Township, is in the process of taking necessary steps to operate its own EMS operation. Currently, it is under contract with ProCare Ambulance.
The Monroe Township and Centerburg fire departments have access to a LiveCAD site, showing fire runs in real-time, as well as a site called RunTimes that is accessible to the public.
“We interface with those, and they are able to get their (run) times from there,” Webster said. She added the two departments need their personnel to then manually enter the information into their systems when doing their reports, whereas Zuercher CAD would do that for them if their fire departments were part of interfacing.
Webster has said there are several “next-gen” features that make Zuercher CAD the way to handle dispatch services. It will interface with the sheriff’s Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS), the Knox County Jail system and the Mount Vernon Police computer system.
The county’s portion of the Zuercher CAD system was more than $408,000. County commissioners approved the agreement with CentralSquare Technologies in March 2019.
Webster also discussed Wednesday evening’s storm, which produced 401 calls during the 4 p.m. to midnight shift — with 158 of them entered into the CAD system. The calls peaked after 7 p.m., and required a fifth dispatcher to come in for work. Those totals compared with 124 calls the previous evening, 52 of which were entered into CAD.
In other county updates, Webster said among numerous projects the IT staff has undertaken recently include making the county website more accessible and user-friendly for the public. Currently, it functions mainly as a directory giving the user access to different county departments and contacts.
Webb said he is also considering an employee portal that would allow county workers to download important items like training materials. Also being considered is a new WiFi system designed for secure guest access in county buildings. One key to the project is developing enough broadband speed to allow guests to have a quality internet connection, without giving uninvited guests — such as in a parking lot outside — the ability to use county connectivity to download movies.
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