NBC Right Now continues to follow the debate over a regional emergency dispatch center.
PASCO, WA - NBC Right Now continues to follow the debate over a regional emergency dispatch center.
It's an idea that started picking up steam two years ago.
We were there Thursday as Benton and Franklin Commissioners agreed to the next step by asking a consulting firm to create design plans for a new centralized dispatch system.
Franklin County Commissioner Brad Peck said, "Looking to the future, if you were to call 9-1-1 from anywhere in our region it would go to a single point and get dispatched more quickly."
But right now, we learned that if you are on a mobile phone and calling 9-1-1 about an emergency in Benton County and your phone pings in Franklin County, the minutes it takes to get that call properly transferred can mean life or death.
Ernest Pages with Sciens Consulting out of Texas has been working with the counties on the plans for integrating the regional service. "What we're suggesting is by going to a single organization, we can take those and manage them better. Provide a higher level of service," said Pages.
"Before the individual agencies begin doing upgrades; we thought it would make sense for us to work together to create one cooperative system and then upgrade that," said Peck.
It's not just emergency calls that will be integrated. All law enforcement and fire officials in the two counties will have better access to information sharing through the Matrix system.
"By integrating the data that's already available in all the agencies in the counties, we're actually improving the safety of the community by using technology more effectively, said Pages.
Now that Benton and Franklin County Commissioners have approved phase one and collectively agreed to move on to phase two of four, the Sciens Consulting Firm will help commissioners take that conceptual plan and work out the details and costs of what it would take to create a regional dispatch service.
"That's where they'll find out whether or not the cost projections and the conceptual part are in fact realistic," said Peck.