Polk receiving emergency 911 backup station

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, August 17, 2016

If Polk County’s 911 service ever goes down, the county should soon have a backup plan. 

Polk County is currently installing an emergency backup 911-station at the Green Creek Fire Department in case its main station in Columbus ever goes down.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Monday, Aug. 8 and heard from interim telecommunications director James McGuinn about the county’s plans for the backup emergency station.

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McGuinn said Polk’s station has been approved and is in the process of being installed at the Green Creek Fire and Rescue Department.

The station’s funding is not coming from the county’s regular budget but from the county’s 911 fund balance. County manager Marche Pittman said the state is actually providing the funding for the county.

McGuinn told commissioners that in 2014 N.C. Governor Pat McCrory signed Senate Bill 797 that required all public safety answering points (PSAPs) to have a backup plan.

“The intent of this bill was to ensure the citizens of North Carolina have access to 911 when they need it,” McGuinn said. “Prior to this bill, only 26 of the 127 PSAPs in North Carolina had a backup plan. There would be a lapse in 911 service for the citizens they serve in the event the (101) PSAPs without backup were to become disabled.”

In order to continue to receive 911 funds from North Carolina, the bill required that all PSAPs have a backup PSAP with mirror image capabilities of the primary PSAP, McGuinn said. The bill also recommended there be a minimum of a one-mile separation between the two 911 centers.

McGuinn told commissioners that by 2015, it became evident that most PSAPs could not accomplish a backup station by July 1, 2016, as the bill required. An amendment to the bill was passed allowing a 12-month extension to the deadline to implement a backup station.

Polk County Commissioner Shane Bradley said with all the storms the area has, it’s very important to have communication. He thanked McGuinn for his work on a backup station.

“That’s great news,” Bradley said.