Networking glitch forces emergency dispatch into tough position

Lawton_Slow response time for emergencies was the hot topic at the Comanche County Commissioners Meeting Monday morning.

The merger between the county and the city of Lawton's E-911 got a little mixed up.  The plan was for dispatchers from both sides to merge and help each other out in taking emergency calls from the community including radio traffic from police, fire and medical.  Instead, the computer systems weren't networked to do that.

Now, dispatchers have to physically get up and move to the other part of the building to hear the radio and it poses a big problem if there's only one person on duty and two calls come in.  "There's seats for two people and there's only one physically working that shift and the other side of the house, they don't send anybody over to back them. They're left by themselves. They're left there hanging in the breeze," says Jon Shepherd from the Fletcher Police Department.

This poses a big problem if a person calls with an emergency and there's a fire at the same time.  It means the fire department may not get the information they need quickly enough since the emergency call comes first.

The city is in charge of E-911 and, according to some people at the meeting, it's been brought to their attention.  "This is not a one-odd thing ... it happens on a regular basis. I've talked to Darrel and we're still in the same situation," says Shepherd.

It's a situation where nothing has changed.  Sometimes there are three dispatchers on county during the day and only one at night - so why not have two and two?  That's what County Commissioners wonder and they say they'll look into the problem.  Count on 7News to tell you more as the story progresses.