Authority Board & 9-1-1 System History
In late 1994, the Authority realized the need for a full-time manager of the Enhanced 911 System. With the system operating within 10 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) scattered across the 2 counties and equipment valued in excess of $2 million, the Authority realized that management was needed to assure the continuous day to day operation of the 911 system. The Colorado State Statutes were very clear that the Authority could not hire an employee for this responsibility.
Consulting services are allowed under State Statute and in October1994, a Request For Proposal (RFP) was issued for Consulting Service to manage the Enhanced 911 System. 2 responses were received as a result of that RFP. A contract was signed with James Anderson, who later would start JKA Consulting, LLC, to provide the required System Management Services. Mr. Anderson and company have served the Authority through contract for 4 years and continue to do so under a new 5-year contract.
AT&T Language Line Services
The ethnic diversity of the population of El Paso and Teller Counties soon became evident to the 911 Authority. The southern part of El Paso County contained a large German population, and it was apparent that many Asian and Spanish speaking people were moving to this region. On June 22, 1995 the Authority Board signed a contract with AT&T Language Line. Through the use of a toll-free number, interpreters became available to interpret from English into as many as 140 languages, 7 days per week, 24 hours per day. This service has proven its value many times every month. Some 20 to 30 calls from the Enhanced 911 system continue to this service every month.
The Authority had created the bylaws as allowed under the terms of the Intergovernmental Agreement, but found it necessary to review those bylaws during August 1996. A committee worked to prepare a revised bylaws document. On August 27, 1996 this revision was approved.
Authority Board Purchasing Manual
As with the bylaws, the Authority felt it necessary to review the Purchasing Manual. The original purchasing manual had followed the manual as prepared for the City of Colorado Springs. Having been reviewed by the Authority legal counsel, a revised Purchasing Manual was approved by Authority Resolution on October 22, 1996.
911 Contingency Plan
In the fall of 1996, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) established Rule 4 CCR 723-29-11. This rule required that every 911 Authority would prepare and keep current a contingency plan. This plan was to include information regarding service area, diverse routing, and other required information to keep 911 operational, should equipment and/or circuits fail. On September 25, 1996, the Authority completed what has been described as the most complete contingency plan prepared in the State of Colorado. This document continues to be reviewed and updated annually.
Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD)
During 1996, several 911 systems across the United States received some unfavorable press regarding medical instructions provided over the 911 system. Allegations about some 911 systems not being able to provide CPR instructions and other life-savings techniques over the 911 telephones became headline news. Some PSAPs in El Paso-Teller 911 system were using the Colorado State approved medical information, while others chose not to provide any medical information. The Authority determined that every 911 Public Safety Answering Point should be able to provide the needed medical information.
Information was gathered regarding this dilemma and it soon became apparent that the Advanced Medical Priority Dispatch System (AMPDS) provided a medically sound protocol. Charlotte Olsen of the Colorado Springs Dispatch Center had seen the system in operation and felt it should be thoroughly investigated. After spending several months, it was decided that this EMD system would provide additional services to the citizens of our 2 counties. This program contained a 2-pronged approach card sets by each call-taker and a computerized version that provides excellent records of the medical emergency. On January 31, 1997 a contract for implementation of both the card sets and computerized software, and all training required was signed by the Authority Chairman.
The EMD program also brought the addition of 1 staff member to the System Manager staff. This staff person, required to be a paramedic, handles the quality assurance work on the EMD program, teaches all EMD basic education (5 days), writes and produces Continuing Education programs, and continues to provide remedial training as required.
Wireless 911 (FCC Rule and Order 94-102)
Technology in the world today has a great impact on our 911 system. With the advent of cellular communications, it was only a matter of time until true 911 services would be required. Remember, up to this point, every telephone serviced by 911 was at a fixed location, with a fixed address. Now telephone technology was moving, literally. Cellular 911 calls were coming into the Colorado Springs Police Communications Center on standard 7 digit dial numbers. This meant that through the telephone system, these calls, traveled on regular Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS). No priority was given to these lines when repair was needed. Wireless 911 was divided into 2 areas or phases as they are called in the Rule and Order:
- Phase 1: Phase 1 required the cellular and PCS companies to provide the 10-digit telephone number and the location of the cellular tower, with face information to the 911 call-taker screen. April 1997 was the deadline for this service to begin, once requested by the Authority.
- Phase 2: Phase 2 requires the addition of latitude and longitude information to the items listed in Phase 1. The original Rule and Order mandated this information to within 95 meters, but several efforts are underway to reduce this number.
Several problems were immediately apparent with the requirements of the Rule and Order. First, the FCC required a cost recovery program to be in place before service could be provided. That meant, local Authority Boards would have to pay the price for this new technology. In 1997, the Colorado State Statute § 29-11-101 through 105 was changed to allow collection on all wireless device lines and increased the upper limit of tariff collection to 70 cents.
The combination of Emergency Medical Dispatch and the Wireless 911 soon showed that new equipment was going to be mandatory in all the PSAPs. The old 911 equipment was not capable of the mapping requirements that would become a standard part of phase two, and EMD required additional screen space for the various EMD displays. After much discussion with all the PSAP managers, it became apparent that the 911 equipment would have to transition to a single computer, with dual 21-inch monitors. This also created an opportunity for PSAPs to migrate to a windows-based Computer Aided Design (CAD) system. The end result is a single computer with the 2 monitors in front of every 911 call-taker. The single computer is taking care of all the computer functions at the call-taker locations, thus the call-taker does not have to switch from 1 computer system to another.
Nine, One, One, Inc, from Denver, Colorado was the successful bidder and signed a contract on July 31, 1997 to begin updating all 911 equipment, using computer systems that were designed and purchase under separate contract, by the Authority. All system updates were completed by May of 1998 and now all 911 computer systems at every PSAP is capable of handling any new technology that might become available.
Wireless Phase I Operation
Every county is allowed by FCC Rules the ability to have 2 cellular and 5 PCS companies operating in the county. As of September 1, 1998, the 1st cellular company began sending 911 calls to our call-takers over dedicated 911 circuits. By the end of 1998, all companies should have completed Phase 1 installation. These installations did not come without significant legal work completed by the Authority attorney and the system manager. The FCC Rule and Order allowed for a contract for service between the Authority and every provider. No contracts were the same, and each had to be negotiated separately.
Wireless Phase II Operation
In order to be prepared for the final phase of wireless 911 dated for October 2001, the Authority has been working diligently to validate the needed mapping and geocoded databases to insure successful implementation. When completed in 2001, the El Paso-Teller County Enhanced 911 System will be capable of locating any wireless device that sends a 911 call, not only knowing what the latitude and longitude of the call is, but when available, the physical address of the location of the caller. The El Paso – Teller County Authority is strides ahead of other Authority’s within the State of Colorado and the United States. Currently, the 911 Authority PSAP’s have the necessary data and software in place to receive and utilize any wireless location information that is provided with a wireless 911 call.
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