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Emergency Operations Center opens in Henry County
by Nneka M. Okona
okona@neighbornewspapers.com
June 19, 2012 03:34 PM | 1046 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Henry County now has a new Emergency Operations Center—a structure that has been a work in progress since 2009.

The center was dedicated on June 20.

Don Ash, Emergency 911 Director, said acquirement and development of the new space was a deliberate decision.

“We had far exceeded the growth potential in our old building,” he said. “That’s what led us.”

The new center is at 526 Industrial Blvd. in McDonough and totals 22,500 square feet on five acres of land.

Henry County secured the property for $1.5 million, although the total budget for funding of the center was $4.83 million.

Funding for the facility was made possible through E-911 special funds, allocated from resident phone surcharges.

For determining what the features of the newest space, a streamlined process was used, according to Ash.

“We looked at the plans for future growth and what our future needs would be,” he said. “That’s how we did the development and design.”

Coincidently, the facility acquired is adjacent to the previous one. Because of that, some fees associated with the communications infrastructure were shaved off significantly.

Features of the new center include an emergency operations center for crisis situations, space for E-911 operators to work, on-site showers and shared offices for outside agencies—the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, the Henry County Health Department, Board of Education and the Georgia Department of Education.

“We upgraded our E-911 to the most current technology and equipment to answer and process calls,” Ash said.

This new technology includes a new voiceover system from AT&T that will allow operators to pinpoint the exact source of emergency calls received, even if the call comes from a cell phone.

Despite all the fees that went into the facility, such as furniture, furnishing and miscellaneous equipment, Ash said he still managed to implement cost-cutting measures.

“Even with a new facility, we worked really hard to keep our costs in line,” he said. “We relied heavily on a government surplus and purchased refurbished furniture and equipment.”

Ash said that the new upgrades will be of great aid to the operators, especially with their interaction with residents and the community at-large.

“It gives the operators a better operating client and proper equipment to do all that,” he said. “[It is essential] for them to perform basic emergency communications for our citizens.”
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