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E-911 gets system upgrade

NATCHEZ — When your house is on fire or you’ve fallen and you can’t get up, the last thing you want is for first responders to have to search for your address.

But Adams County emergency officials are hoping that, with the installation of a new Easy 911 software Wednesday, that won’t happen anymore.

Emergency 911 Coordinator Stan Owens said the software, which can be installed in a basic laptop computer, will be integrated into how the county’s 911 service does house numbering inside and outside the Natchez city limits.

All that’s needed is a laptop and a basic Global Positioning System device, Owens said.

An operator will drive with the computer and GPS hooked together, and when he reaches an address, the operator logs exactly where that address is using the GPS coordinates and the push of a button. The information is instantly updated with the system at the county emergency dispatch offices, which will have their portion of the software installed sometime early next week.

“With this, I could pull up and take a picture of the house, pinpoint the driveway, note any special hazards like a dangerous dog and radio dispatch to let them know that it’s been updated,” Owens said.

The system the county has been using has spanned map layers, not unlike those available on online mapping websites, Owens said.

“The ranges we have now is a best-guess range,” Owens said. “We hope with this (new) information we will be able to go out and pinpoint addresses.”

The Natchez Fire Department and the Adams County Sheriff’s Office have both budgeted for the equipment to install the new software in deputy patrol and fire response units.

Owens said the software will also include layers showing the exact locations of things like fire hydrants and cellular phone towers.

Because the information has to be entered manually and on location, Owens said it will take some time before the address layer is completed.

“We are going to take it real slow, because bad information is worse than no information at all,” he said.

The actual mapping will likely have to be contracted out, Owens said, and will start by working from the outer edges of the county toward the city.

But the sooner the program can be fully implemented, the better, Owens said.

“When a first responder like a fire truck or a law enforcement officer has this in their unit, they would have the information they need at their fingertips,” he said.