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New CHP Digital Telephone System to Ease 911 Load

September 12, 2000|GAIL DAVIS

Overburdened 911 operators will get some relief when a $140,000 digital telephone system is installed Wednesday at the California Highway Patrol's Ventura communications center.

CHP switchboards receive more 911 calls than other law enforcement agencies in this area because emergency calls from cellular phones are routed directly to the highway patrol.

The digital system will streamline operations, said William Harry, the CHP's assistant commander for telecommunications at the agency's Sacramento headquarters.

Instead of routing 911 calls to one telephone line served by one operator, the calls will now be automatically spread among several lines served by 19 operators.

"Our communication centers are obviously understaffed," Harry said.

"There are few things that can change; we can't make them bigger, but we can improve them using technology."

Nonemergency calls will also come into the center with a slight delay, so the operators receive 911 calls first, Harry said.

If the public notices any difference, it will be in shorter wait times when calling 911, he said.

Money from the state's 911 Emergency Fund--which comes from a surcharge of a few cents tacked onto the bills of all telephone customers--paid for the system.

The $140,000 will cover a five-year lease on the Nortel Meridian M1 equipment and its maintenance, Harry said.

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