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Adams improves 911 response system

The Adams County Commissioners have approved a $46,000 quote from Priority Dispatch Corporation that could improve how 911 calls are processed and ensure that the proper response is given to each emergency.

Warren Bladen, Director of Adams County Emergency Management Systems, described the three types of responses to emergency calls – fire, police, and medical dispatch. When a 911 caller answers an operator’s question, the computer decides on the next question for the operator to ask.

The quality assurance audit provided by the new system helps ensure that the appropriate questions are asked correctly and that the operator doesn’t skip, jump ahead, or ask questions out of order. 

“It’s important for people to answer the questions completely so that the appropriate response can be made,” said Bladen. “And don’t hang up. Everyone assumes we have their location, but we don’t. Every bit of information could be critical.” he added.

The contract will provide continual audits of emergency telecommunicators. This used to be handled in-house, but an increased workload demand created the need for an outside service. “This is the same company that provides protocols that the Pennsylvania Emergency Management (PEMA) has selected,” Bladen said.

While computers are very useful in prioritizing the right questions to achieve the best response, Bladen said he doesn’t see it being a job fully taken over by artificial intelligence in the future. “It still needs that human element,” he said.  

Inadvertent Real Estate Tax Relief

In other business, the commissioners adopted an ordinance that will save new real estate holders in the county from having to pay fees or additional fines associated with late payment of taxes. The ordinance establishes a waiver form that new property owners can fill out if they don’t receive their real estate tax notifications because they have inadvertently been sent to the former owners. In the past, the new owners had to pay any late fees or fines associated with the late payments. Beginning in 2023, they can file a waiver acknowledging they did not receive the tax bill and pay only the face value of the tax.

Offender Monitoring Device Price Increase

The cost of offender monitoring devices has risen by ten cents per day, including alcohol, radio frequency, breathalyzer, and GPS monitoring. When offenders can’t pay the cost of their monitoring devices, the county picks up the tab. As of August, the total cost for unpaid monitors in 2022 was $14,500.

Solicitor Molly Mudd pointed out that even with the county picking up the balance for the unpaid devices, it is a significant saving for the county to have offenders monitored in their homes rather than being placed in jail at the cost of about $115 per day per inmate.

“This keeps them working and able to pay their fines,” said Commissioner Marty Qually.

Moment of Silence

Long-time resident Mary Furlong was remembered with a moment of silence at the beginning of Wednesday’s meeting. “She was a very vibrant and beneficial part of our community,” said Commissioner Randy Phiel. The volunteer, activist, and educator was an Adams County Courthouse tipstaff employee. She died Nov. 21.

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Judith Cameron Seniura is a freelance reporter. She began her journalism career in the early ‘70s and has written for newspapers, magazines, and other media in Ontario, Canada, Alaska, Michigan, Nebraska, San Antonio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

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