ROBERTSON COUNTY, Texas - An ongoing disagreement between Robertson County Commissioners and the Sheriff's Department has kept emergency communications from a much-needed upgrade, and could end up putting lives in danger.
County Judge Jan Roe said the system needs new software, additional operators and training for those operators.
"The new software is the standard in the United States," said Roe.
A Robertson County law enforcement officer, who didn't want to be identified, said the problem is so bad, lives could be in danger if left unchecked.
With the new software, dispatchers would be certified medical dispatchers, able to offer potentially life-saving information over the phone, like CPR, how to unblock an airway, or how to stop a victim from bleeding. All of which Robertson County operators are not allowed to offer right now.
"Instead of emergency dispatchers, we then would have certified emergency medical dispatchers. And that's a world of difference," said Roe.
The only problem for county commissioners was the location of 911 dispatch. Right now, the operators are stationed inside the control room of the county jail in Franklin. Roe said that environment is simply too noisy and distracting for dispatchers.
"You can put this amazing software in the control room, but it's still in the central part of the jail," said Roe.
About a year ago, county commissioners wanted to move 911 dispatch to the Annex building just behind the main courthouse, buy the software and add about five more operators.
Only problem was, Robertson County Sheriff Gerald Yezak didn't want dispatch moved. He said it's been working fine inside the jail for years, and to move it would disrupt a system it took years to build.
Roe disagrees. She said the new software requires even greater training and concentration from the operators. Something they simply can't do inside the jail.
"We have the money for it. We've got it set aside, we're not saying never, but we're saying not until we can do it right," said Roe. "We're not going to get on the bicycle until we can ride it, I mean, there's just no way. You're going to wreck."
County officials have formed a citizens advisory committee to determine if the current jail needs to be remodeled or rebuilt.
A new 911 and dispatch system could be worked out then, but the process could take a couple of years.
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