BEATRICE – Richardson County and Falls City could soon be served by the Southeast Communications 9-1-1 Center in Beatrice, much like the City of Crete.
"The Richardson County Board approved an agreement with the City of Beatrice which is yet to be approved by our council...it will probably go to the next city council meeting for approval. That will begin the process for us to begin dispatching for the Richardson County Sheriff and the rural fire and rescue departments in Richardson County that are outside the limits of Falls City."
Beatrice Police Chief Bruce Lang says the new rural area served would be about four-thousand people. He says discussions are in progress with Falls City officials to also include them in the regional service.
"The goal is everyone would pay a similar fee based on their population, calls for service and their specific computer needs....and how they would link into the system."
By adding Richardson County, Lang says two additional dispatchers would be added, allowing the Southeast Communications Center to provide 24-hour coverage with three persons, seven-days-a-week. He said the center is looking at options for remodeling, or possibly other sites.
"It's a situation where the technology and the requirements for staffing is changing at the state level. It's very difficult for smaller places to be able to economically and staffing-wise, provide the level of service people expected on 9-1-1."
Regionalization of emergency communications is not new……its going on in places like York, Seward, Norfolk and in western Nebraska. Lang says some of the unwillingness of smaller counties and communities to give up their dispatching centers is going away, as the economics of operating a system hit home.
"The County of Richardson, for example, right off the bat is going to save about a hundred to a hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year just in operation cost. Some places stand to save even more than that. That's a lot of money when you look at that, over the long haul....and that's not counting equipment purchases and a new system for 911. It has specific requirements for technology and for staffing. It's very difficult for these smaller population areas....basically anybody in southeast Nebraska that's not Lincoln or Lancaster County. None of those places have a lot of population, so a consolidated center can serve them pretty easily."
The two dispatch centers in Falls City and in Richardson County are required to each have a minimum of four full-time staff members to maintain 24-seven service. In the future, as more counties or communities regionalize with a single communications center, Lang says it will hold cost increases in check, or perhaps reduce the cost of member agencies….through sharing nine-one-one and emergency communications.
This past Monday, the City of Crete’s agreement was renewed with the City of Beatrice, for nine-one-one emergency service.