City to enhance 911 system

by Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

Next week, the consolidated 911 dispatch system based at the Tucumcari Police Department is expected to get the first phase of a long-awaited mapping system.

The mapping system will eventually be able to pinpoint the source of a 911 distress call on a map on a computer screen, whether the call is coming from a land line or a cell phone, said Police Chief Larry Ham.

That means that the location of a farmer who’s working out in a distant field alone and dials his cell phone for help, as well as an accident victim on the highly traveled Interstate 40, can both be easily found by rescue crews.

Installation of a completely operational 911 dispatch center has been four years in the planning and making, said Richard Primrose, city manager.

Initially, the system will be able to track land line calls, and later it will be able pinpoint cell phone calls, Ham said.

Ham said that all cell phones now come equipped with a special GPS, or global positioning satellite chip, that allows them to communicate where the phone is.

And in the future, that technoloy will assist emergency teams to finding persons in distresss, he said.

“It’s not that big brother wants to watch you, Ham said, “but it’s for public safety and health.”

The system was mandated by the state’s Department of Finance Administration. The DFA said they would no longer finance a number of small dispatch centers in an area, but wanted to see a consolidation and eventually a cost savings, Primrose said.

Since the city was getting a new police building, it was decided that the system should be based there. And more than a year ago, the city and Quay County entered into an agreement where they would operate, according to state regulations in what is formally known as the Tucumcari/Quay Regional Emergency Communications Center.

The dipatch center’s boundaries are the city of Tucumcari, Quay County, Harding County, Conchas Dam fire Dispatch Center, which is in San Miguel County, and the villages of House, Logan and San Jon.