New 911 system operating in Cherokee County

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CHEROKEE COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – Major changes are happening for emergency calls in Cherokee County.

“We’ve replaced a 30 year old technology,” said Cherokee County 911 Deputy Director Brandon Peeler, adding that changing the infrastructure was a two year process.

He said Cherokee County has the first 9-1-1 center in South Carolina to implement AT&T’s ESInet.

“Now all of our 9-1-1 lines will be delivered on an IP fiber network,” said Peeler.

He said the county receives more than 200,000 calls each year, and the new system means better call quality and handling of natural disasters.

“If a fiber line is cut that would normally prevent 9-1-1 calls from coming to us, it could be automatically be rerouted to come from a different direction,” said Peeler. “The faster we can receive a call, the faster we can send them a response.”

He says dispatchers can handle higher call volumes and get those calls faster.

“The better data we can get, the more they can give us the better off we are,” said Gaffney Fire Chief Jamie Caggiano. “That helps us to  understand what equipment we need to send, where we need to send it.”

Peeler says people can soon send and receive information by texting dispatchers from a cell phone.

“If it’s a domestic situation and they can’t speak, they have the ability to text us,” said Peeler. “If there’s a missing child, they have the ability to take the picture of a child and send it to us.”

They also now have Rapid SOS to get a caller’s gps location instead of getting a radius based on the closest cell tower.

“We have accidents on the interstate, somebody might run off the side of the road, somebody might not see them, it allows us to locate that victim,” said Chief Caggiano.

Peeler said the texting aspect of the new 911 system will be available in the coming months.

He adds that it’s important to have the technology residents are more accustomed to because 95% of their calls come from mobile devices.

“We wanted to make sure our citizens have the same quality of service that they would get when they travel to a bigger city,” said Peeler. “We want everything to be very dependable for them.”