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Time is precious in an emergency

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By Stephen Lega

We know that seconds matter especially in an emergency, and for that reason, it’s good that Marion County and Lebanon city officials appear to be on the same page with regard to implementing enhanced 911.
It’s also unfortunate that it’s taken decades to get to this point.
Last week, the Enhanced 911 Advisory Committee held a public meeting, which also included city and county officials and emergency personnel.
The advisory council took two important steps last week. The first is recommending that the city and county use grant funds to purchase the equipment needed to implement E911. Now it’s up to the Lebanon City Council and the Marion County Fiscal Court to approve that purchase.
Second, a nominating committee was formed to recommend a chairperson and vice-chairperson for the committee.
To this point, Marion County Judge/Executive John G. Mattingly has moderated the 911 committee meetings. By the next meeting, the committee should have the leadership in place for the long term.
As of last week, the county was close to submitting its Master Street Addressing Guide to Windstream for review. The county hopes to reach the 95-97 percent accuracy threshold (which is required before it takes another step closer toward E911), but few counties reach that threshold on the first try.
When everything is in place, Marion County will be joining the Central Kentucky 911 Network, which is based in Lexington, and that will reduce the county’s cost to implement and maintain E911 service.
Monday, Judge Mattingly told me he estimated the monthly costs would run $6,000 to $7,000, which is $72,000 to $84,000 per year, based on the most recent information.
Thankfully, once Marion County starts receiving CMRS funds (which are now going to the state police), it should be collecting enough to cover the costs to maintain E911. Judge Mattingly told me Monday that this may take 30-45 days.
County officials estimate Marion County will receive around $116,000 per year from CMRS funds, which comes from the 911 tax added to most cell phone bills.
And that revenue could get higher. David Lucas (of the Central Kentucky 911 Network) reported to the 911 committee that legislation may be considered to make sure that tax is collected on all cell phones (some prepaid phone companies have not been collecting it) and on voice over Internet phone lines (for example, Vonage).
Note to Sen. Higdon and Rep. Mills: Support this legislation if you see it.
Coming out of last week’s meeting, county officials said they hope to have E911 in place by this summer.
At this point, I almost expect everything related to E911 to take longer than anticipated. I hope I’m wrong this time.