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Limestone leaders consider central dispatch of emergency services

Posted at 9:37 PM, Jul 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-01 03:26:55-04

LIMESTONE COUNTY, TX — Limestone County doesn't have many big city problems, but now county leaders have begun looking at a big city solution to a potentially life-threatening problem.

They want to consolidate all of the county's emergency dispatch in one place, a move that stands to save the city of Mexia alone, about $350,000 dollars.

But this solution concerns far more than just saving money.

Dispatchers provide a life-and-death link between those who need help, and those best prepared to save lives.

We depend on them, but most of us, like Nyjanae Lee, have no idea who answers 911 calls.

"No, I don't know if Mexia answers. I just know a dispatcher answers, " said Nyjanae Lee of Mexia.

And if you Call Mexia on a landline, that's true... But County Judge Richard Duncan made a surprising discovery.

"When you call in on a cell phone, you're calling Limestone County already. They would then have to dispatch it over to Mexia. So the response time was slowed down, just from the way the 911 system was set up," Duncan explained.

So to speed up help to the county's biggest city, and everyone else in Limestone county, he's proposed consolidating all emergency dispatch under one apolitical roof overseen by Emergency Management.

How will the county pay for the extra cost of creating this new department of dispatch?

Commissioners will use the savings they pocketed from closing the juvenile detention center, money cut from courthouse renovations.

So far, most people like the idea.

Most, but not all.

Those who oppose the move, say they do so on the basis of giving up local control. They think local people should answer local calls.

And while local control sounds nice, Groesbeck City Manager and Police Chief Chris Henson says, it helps to have everyone on the same page and speaking the same language.

”I think it will streamline a lot of things. It will get all agencies on the same page when it comes to dispatch. You won't have multiple agencies with multiple dispatch styles" said Henson.

And that, he says, should get help to the people who need it... faster.

"I feel that if everybody's in one spot, everybody can help each other," said Nyjanae Lee.

And she says, in an emergency, who wouldn't want more help?