Recently I had the opportunity to visit one of Bannock County’s hidden gems, our 911 System. I have to admit I am a bit of a Tech geek, so when the 911 Director asked me if I wanted to see the backbone of the system I jumped at the opportunity.

The first in the State
We were the first in the State with some of this technology.

In Idaho, Bannock County is considered a leader in our 911 dispatch technology. We were the first in the state to have certain pieces in place and have led the charge in creating a system that works with multiple agencies. Our system is good enough that we serve as backup systems for several other agencies and counties in our area.

The 911 system has been the pet project for Gordon Howell, our IT director. He has worked closely with vendors like Day Wireless to ensure we stay at the forefront. Gordon set up a ride-along with Aaron Clark, Area Service Manager of Day Wireless, to tour our communication backbone.

Our primary communication hub is located at the top of Chinese Peak. We have two other backup stations in the county that can be called into service within seconds. As we reviewed the facility and equipment, I was impressed with the level of redundancy built into the system. According to Aaron, our redundancies can kick in within 3 milliseconds of a failure in another system. When asked about the redundancies, Aaron said, “We can afford to drop a call. Lives are at stake.”

The Brains of the 911 System
The systems keep getting smaller. The original room filled with backup equipment is in the background.

I asked him about the power to the station and he said there are redundancies built in there as well. There are battery packs that can go for days. Additionally, there is a propane-powered generator that can kick on and run the station for over a week. These systems are checked on a quarterly basis and monitored daily electronically.

The 911 System is funded through a variety of sources and is a critical component of the county infrastructure. I for one didn’t realize what when on behind the scenes of a a 911 call, especially from a technology standpoint. Aaron is right, we can’t afford for the system go down because lives are at stake. Not only the lives of those calling 911, but the lives of those responding to the call.

We are working to refine the GPS capabilities to increase the accuracy of dispatch locations. We are also working with other entities and counties to create a seamless 911 service throughout the Eastern side of the state. I was excited to learn about how Bannock County is a leader in this area and I’m grateful we have great people working to keep us safe.