Now into its fourth week of operation, employees at the new Sumner County Emergency Communications Center in Gallatin say there have been a few rough spots getting adjusted, but the new county-wide consolidated call center is working well.
"It's all new - our operators are having to learn a new CAD, phone, and radio system and we are trying to cross train everyone and also put people in the same areas they worked in," Rhonda Lea, director of the ECC said. "There's going to be obstacles just because we have so many cities all coming together. All of our operators came from different areas and have had to familiarize themselves with the boundaries and each city's policies and procedures and how they want things done."
Lea said the new center has been able to standardize some of the procedures with each of the departments across the county. Other things are handled individually, depending on what each city will and will not provide. For example - not all of the Sumner County cities provide vehicle lockout service for residents, Lea said, and that's something each of the operators have to learn.
"Gallatin unlocks vehicles; Hendersonville does not - that's up to each individual city," she said, adding that animal calls are sometimes handled differently between the cities as well.
Some of the major complaints so far have been calls being re-routed to the new Gallatin facility when residents are trying to make non-emergency calls to their local police department. In most cases it is actually the caller that is creating the delay.
Lea said it's important for residents making these calls to listen carefully to the phone tree, or the answering machine that directs them to what number to punch in to get to their desired department. Not paying attention and punching in the wrong number can easily direct the call to the 911 emergency center in Gallatin, she said.
"A lot of people don't listen to the tree - if they hit zero it comes to us," Lea said. "It's a learning curve for everyone, with a whole new system and new procedures. I know sometimes that does get frustrating for some of the citizens, but we are trying to guide them. It's getting better each day."