West Central ETSB Approve Multi-Million Dollar Overhaul of Telecomm Network

By Benjamin Cox on April 12, 2024 at 8:40am

The West Central Emergency Telephone System Board voted on Wednesday to green light a complete overhaul of its telecommunications system.

The board consists of police, ambulance, and fire departments in Morgan, Greene, the northwest portion of Cass, and Calhoun counties.

Morgan County ESDA Coordinator Phil McCarty says if an organization runs emergency lights in those areas, then they are a part of this massive, multi-million dollar project: “Our goal is to build a county-wide public safety radio system to enhance inner-operation abilities for all of our responders – fire, police, and EMS across the counties. Everybody if they run lights and sirens and emergency services in the community would be included.”

The Joint Dispatch agreement has been in place since 2017. Jacksonville Memorial Hospital was a part of the agreement, and they have since fallen off. McCarty says that JMH falling out of the agreement was planned. An update to the agreement will be coming with the new system-wide overhaul.

McCarty says that the City of Jacksonville has some work to do in the meantime when it comes to the recent application of Echo Ambulance to be a part or not of the Joint Dispatch agreement and become an E-911 responding agency. Echo currently only handles transfers for JMH in the City of Jacksonville. Last month, Echo applied to become a second licensed emergency response agency. McCarty says that the City Council and the Jacksonville Ambulance Commission are working out details to make sure that Echo and current provider LifeStar can co-exist: “The city has to address the application that Echo put in soon. We are talking and working internally to be able to adjust the city ordinance so that it is fair and equal to everybody. The ordinance is extremely old. We have to bring the ordinance up to date with today’s world as well as making it fair and equal to both parties.”

More information on the telecommunications project and the process of the update is expected to be released within the next few months.