On or before July 1, 2003, every locality in Virginia was required to be served by an E911 system. Madison County received a grant from the Commonwealth and along with monies received from telephone surcharges, the current 911 center began operations in July 2002. The 911 center is staffed 24 hours a day with a minimum of two dispatchers on duty. The 911 center receives 911 calls from all home phones in the county as well as cellular phones of residents and travelers. The center is considered to be “Enhanced 911” and has the ability to track cellular phones with the carrier's phase 2 technology.
The 911 center consists of 10 full-time dispatchers along with 2 full-time dispatchers/supervisors. The center is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and receives emergency calls for Law Enforcement, Fire, and Medical Emergencies. The center also accepts non-emergency calls on normal phone lines. The 911 center has the most current technology for receiving 911, radio communications, mapping, and CAD. Each dispatcher is trained and certified by the Department of Criminal Justice.
The County receives funding for 911 through the state in the form of (i) taxes and surcharges collected from telephone and cable utilities and returned to localities, and (ii) Compensation Board reimbursement for a portion of the salaries of several Dispatch positions, and (iii) funding received from the Wireless Board of surcharges placed on cellular phones.
- What should I do if I dial 911 by mistake?
Do not hang up. Stay on the line and let the dispatcher know that it was a mistake. When someone hangs up the dispatcher does not know what the circumstances are at the occurring location. Law enforcement units will be dispatched on all 911 hang-ups, misdials, and open lines. By staying on the line and letting the dispatcher know that the call was a mistake allows that information to be relayed to the responders, giving them accurate information about the 911 call.
- How do responders find my house or business?
Dispatchers have mapping software that automatically plots a point when an E-911 call is received; the dispatcher will confirm this information with the caller. This allows dispatchers to help responders find your location. A well-posted E-911 address will do a great deal to ensure that responders don't spend an unnecessary amount of time getting to your home or business.
- How do dispatchers notify responders of an emergency?
Dispatchers will transmit information about an emergency by way of an analog paging system and digital radio frequencies. Information from the Computer Assisted Dispatching (CAD) software will also push certain information out to the responder by way of a mobile application called Active911. Information such as the location and call specifics will be relayed to the responders by the dispatcher.
- Will answering so many questions delay the responders getting to my home or business?
No, answering the questions presented by the dispatcher will not delay a responder getting to your home or business. We use a concept called team dispatching. While one dispatcher is asking questions and documenting responses their partner is busy monitoring the call and notifying responders of the emergency. This allows a flow of information and a timely response simultaneously to occur.