Published 10:45 a.m. CT April 28, 2017 at www.tennessean.com
In an effort to acknowledge the work of University of Tennessee agencies, President Joe DiPietro made a brief visit Thursday morning to the newly constructed Sumner County consolidated E-911 center.
DiPietro was impressed by the $4.8 million facility, set to begin service in June on Airport Road in Gallatin.
"It's the perfect thing, world class," he said. "I go out on these trips frequently and it reaffirms what we do."
DiPietro was joined by Sumner County Executive Anthony Holt, E-911 Director Rhonda Lea, Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett and Portland Mayor Ken Wilber among others.
UT Institute of Public Service agencies County Technical Assistance Service and Municipal Technical Advisory Service played a key role in the initial planning stages of the initiative. The agencies were involved in bringing the six entities together — Gallatin, Hendersonville, Portland, Millersville, Westmoreland and Sumner County.
"One of things that we do at IPS is work with city and county governments with all kinds of issues and problems that they have," IPS Vice President Herbert Byrd III said. "This worked really well because two of our agencies could come together and work with city and county officials to bring them together."
For Holt, the big game-changer has been the consolidation success.
"We took all of the dispatch (services) from all these cities and consolidated into one unit that is protected against any storm," Holt said. "This facility can stand an EF-5 tornado without interrupting service."
The 9,000-square-foot center is being built to meet Federal Emergency Management Agency standards. It will house an emergency operations center as the headquarters where emergency personnel will meet during a natural disaster.
"The University of Tennessee is very unique, it is the only land-grant institution in the state, part of our mission is outreach," Dipietro said. "And so CTAS and MTAS provides this kind of advice to city and county governments and also comes with expertise background and assurance of the highest caliber of recommendation."
The E-911 communications center will be the primary answering point for all emergency calls in Sumner County and will be responsible for the dispatching of police, fire, and EMS field resources, according to Lea, the ECC director.
"The Emergency Communications Center is the critical link between community members calling for assistance and the Public Safety Responders in the field," Lea said. "When you contact the Sumner County Emergency Communications Center, you will speak with a highly trained Public Safety Telecommunicators, whose mission is to provide the highest level of quality service by maintaining cool calm and professional demeanor."
Sumner sets new standard for intergovernment partnerships
Unlike Sumner County, other counties in Middle Tennessee have struggled to bring all entities to one table.
In Montgomery County, the city and county government have been at odds in the past. However, Sumner County might be leading the charge of change.
Durrett said Thursday the big takeaway for him is that Sumner County has five cities but still managed to have a consolidated E-911 center.
"That is what we need in Montgomery County and that is what we are working for," he said.
In October 2016, Clarksville and Montgomery County came together by an interlocal agreement to have a state-of-the-art computer-aided dispatch system for improving responsiveness and efficiency in emergencies.
"We are headed towards that path, we just got a little more work to do," Durrett said on Thursday.
E-911 center: by the numbers
$4.8 million – total price
$4,475,000 — construction
$275,250 — architectural fees
$2.5 million – initial price
$377,000 – already spent
$2.6 million – grant funding
$900,000 – 911 fees
$2 million – additional county funds
Source: Sumner County Finance Office
Operational Funding Matrix
32 percent — Sumner County
29 percent — Hendersonville
23 percent — Gallatin
9 percent — Portland
5 percent — Millersville
2 percent— Westmoreland
Source: Interlocal Agreement