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News : Call Center Routes Help Where and When It’s Needed
Hackneyville, Kellyton, Chimney Rock, Alexander City, AL, August 15, 2014 -- It’s not uncommon to see Alexander City emergency services responding to incidents in these areas that lie outside of the city limits.
But there is naturally a system in place to determine which department goes where with reasoning ranging from which department is closer or simply coming to the assistance of a neighbor in need.
Anita Haggerty, Tallapoosa County 9-1-1 Coordinator, said each police and fire department as well as emergency management service ambulances have jurisdiction boundaries in place that determine their area of operation.
"Years ago when 9-1-1 was formed for Tallapoosa County, the jurisdiction lines were drawn across the county. The 9-1-1 calls that come into Alexander City Police Department are for the city limits and police jurisdiction," Haggerty said. "Tallassee is kind of unique in that they have city limits and police jurisdiction in Elmore and Tallapoosa counties. Those calls for Tallassee in the Tallapoosa County side for the city limits and police jurisdiction go for Elmore County Sheriff’s Department and Tallassee Police."
Haggerty said 9-1-1 calls in the county, outside of Alexander City, are routed to the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Department, and whether a 9-1-1 call is made from a landline or a cellphone determines where it is sent.
"With cellphone calls, if the calls for instance hit a cell tower that is outside Alexander City jurisdiction, it may come to the sheriff’s office, but they can then route it to Alex City and vice versa," Haggerty said. "The cellphone calls are different from landlines in that the landlines are specifically routed that communications center in the area. With cellphone towers, it depends on what tower the call hits to determine where it will be routed. For instance, as close as Alexander City is to Coosa County, someone on the county boarder there may call 9-1-1 and it might route to Alexander City."
As for fire departments and ambulance services, they have their own set of jurisdiction boundaries.
"Our actual coverage area for EMS is Clay County and back toward the Hillabee Creek, all the way down to Peckerwood and Jackson’s Gap down to the lake. That’s our true coverage area," said Alexander City Fire Chief Kem Jones. "Our rural area is not populated enough to afford EMS other than volunteers. If called, and if we have enough personnel, we service those areas. We work out a mutual aid and an automatic aid with both fire and EMS."
Sometimes emergency response to areas such as Chimney Rock, far outside Alexander City City limits, are based on proximity.
"For areas like Chimney Rock, the Ridge (Marina) is closest and we’re the closest EMS operation to the Ridge. Otherwise, EMS would have to come from Friendship, Wetumpka and down in that area," Jones said.
But often times departments such as the Alexander City Fire Department respond to emergencies based on mutually beneficial agreements that are already in place.
"Our fire coverage area for the City of Alexander City is our police jurisdiction, but again the smaller departments benefit as well as Alexander City benefits by having an automatic-aid agreement," Jones said. "If they get there and it’s a huge commercial building or a large structure, we’re automatically dispatched to assist, as well at they are dispatched to assist within our jurisdiction, too.
"We all help each other. Automatic aid is where we automatically respond to buildings outside our coverage area. We have automatic aid with Kellyton, Ourtown, and with Hackneyville in certain areas."
Those automatic-aid agreements, Jones said, are greatly beneficial and help further perpetuate the ultimate goal of emergency response agencies – helping people.
"It helps lower the home owners’ insurance, benefits the community and the surrounding residents of Alexander City and so forth," Jones said. "It’s all about helping people."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Monday, August 18, 2014