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Cotton Co. Votes E911 Service In

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COTTON CO., Okla_ Cotton County will finally get its Enhanced 911 system, thanks to the community voting it into action Tuesday.

Residents will soon see a 50-cent service fee on their cell phone bills and about a $3 fee increase on landlines. The money will go towards covering the expense of upgrading the system.

The biggest help E911 will offer first responders is shorter time getting to the scene of an emergency, especially for emergency personnel with Samaritan Ambulance service in Cotton County.

"E911 is probably the best thing since sliced bread," Samaritan's Charles Vetters said.

He said that's because since arriving in Cotton County in August, his emergency crew hasn't had it easy. None of them are familiar with Cotton County, so finding their way to an emergency scene can be frustrating, especially when they aren't sure where they're going.

Cotton County Sheriff Kent Simpson said the confusion on where to go on a call doesn't just stop with the ambulance service. Simpson showed me why E911 will make it easier for dispatch, too.

"Right now, dispatchers will take a 911 call on the same phone that we use for everything else," Simpson said. ‘Then, she also has to keep up with courthouse security. She keeps up with jail security all on the cameras. Then, she has to take notes on 911 and log them into the computer."

He said they plan to hire someone solely responsible for E911 calls once the system is installed. Until then, the county still has to find money to run the system, address and map the whole county, and put street signs up.

"We're a long way from getting it," Simpson said, "But it's a good thing we've gotten it started."

Cotton County Commissioner's Office, said there is no timetable on when the E911 system will be operational. The county said they will apply for grants to help pay for those additional costs.

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