E-911 to get IP based system upgrade

CHIPLEY – The Washington County Board of County Commissioners approved the receipt of state funds for an E-911 grant when the board met in special session on Monday.

Commissioners say the $149,692 grant will bring Washington County in line with 12 other counties, including Holmes County to be the first region on Florida to use the ESInet system. This system will do away with legacy lines and utilize an internet connection to function. 

When calls come into the communication center, any information entered into the system will be accessible to every county in the network, something officials say is most important feature of the system.  This is because in the event of an emergency, any of the counties can forward their calls to another participating county for response. The assisting county can then direct the needed emergency service to the scene. 

The system will also make it possible for counties to take the equipment and move it to anywhere that can be connected to Wi-Fi and still be functional. 

There is no match required from the county for the grant. 

E-911 Coordinator Clint Erickson says the system will pay for itself. 

“This is a five-year program that will be funded by both state and federal funding,” said Erickson. “The program will pay for itself within the five years. Because of that, we are hoping the federal government will continue to fund it beyond the first five years.”

In other items, commissioners approved a second ambulance purchase for Washington County EMS with American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. The first ambulance was approved a few months ago, but the funding has not yet been spent. Commissioners say that in order to save the county money, both will be paid for up front at a cost of $407,130 for a savings of  $6,910 through the provider’s discount offer.

The Washington County Board of County Commissioners will meet again in regular session at 9 a.m. on Nov. 18.