It's been years in the making, but the new Sumner County Emergency Communications Center (SCECC) - a countywide consolidated dispatch center for all 911 calls received in Sumner County, will officially open for business July 17.
This Friday, July 7, officials will hold a ribbon cutting at 2 p.m. and an open house for the public from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at 253 Airport Road where residents will get a chance to view the new facility.
Sumner County emergency agencies, Hendersonville, Gallatin, Portland, Goodlettsville, Millersville and Westmoreland will all house their emergency dispatch services in the new facility, located on Airport Road in Gallatin.
Rhonda Lea, ECC director, said the building is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment.
"We will have a new radio system, new 911 phone system, CAD system - all of the resources we have got at our fingertips will help those operators be more efficient and effective," she said. "It's going to give a higher level and quality of service for the citizens of Sumner County."
Right now, those answering 911 calls are scattered throughout the county and often calls need to be rerouted to the appropriate first responders. Having all the emergency calls answered in one location will save time when lives matter, Lea said.
"We will be managing and handling those calls from start to finish including the cities, the sheriff's office and EMS - they won't be transferred to another agency," she said. "We are going to be the critical link for citizens calling and for first responders."
Portland Fire Chief Al West agreed
"There will be no more transferred calls," West said. "You won't have a heart attack and a call that goes to the county and then to EMS and the Portland PD - it's a safety issue. This is one of the most exciting things that is going to happen to public safety."
Another important safety feature - the new 9,000 square-foot, hardened facility is designed to withstand an EF5 tornado, Lea said, ensuring not only the safety of the staff, but vital communications equipment as well.
"It's a concrete building - I don't think it's going anywhere," Lea said.
Lea said the new emergency center will begin going live on July 17.
"We will cut a couple of agencies over that day and throughout the week cut, we will cut everybody over," she said.