By James Neal, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Major County residents are experiencing some confusion as their addresses are adjusted to comply with new requirements for an enhanced-911 service.
Major County and 21 other counties still operate on basic 911, in which an emergency call is routed to a 911 dispatcher, but information on the caller’s telephone number and location must be provided by the caller by voice. If the caller is unable to speak, or is unaware of their location, the dispatcher is unable to determine where to send emergency services.
In enhanced 911, or E911, the caller’s telephone number and physical address automatically are provided to the dispatcher.
The Oklahoma Legislature has been pushing for statewide implementation of E911 for more than six years, beginning with creation of a statewide 911 advisory board in 2006, and standardization of wireless E911 service fees in 2011.
Counties gradually have been working to implement the E911 capability, with implementation ranging from basic 911 service only, as in Major County, to full E911 service, with the enhanced cell phone locating capability.
Major, Alfalfa, Blaine and Dewey counties all have basic 911 service. Garfield, Grant, Woods and Woodward counties all have the E911 service with the enhanced cell phone locating capability.
Major County recently signed an interlocal agreement with Enid/Garfield County 911, according to a press release from Major County 911 coordinator Tresa Lackey. The agreement will enable Major County to utilize Garfield County’s equipment for a fee, but avoid the equipment and start-up costs, while retaining the use of Major County’s own dispatchers.
“In the coming months, incoming 911 calls from Major County will be answered by the 911 center in Enid and transferred, within a fraction of a second, back to Major County dispatchers,” Lackey wrote. “The call-takers will have the ability to determine the number where the phone call is originating from, location of the caller, location of the closest cell tower and the GPS coordinates of the phone location.
“This partnership will give Major County an opportunity for the use of new and advanced technology that dramatically decreases response time, and gives Major County residents the assurance that emergency services can get to them quickly when they are unable to verbally give their exact location.
“The ability to track the exact location of an emergency caller dramatically enhances the ability to respond immediately to the exact location where someone needs help.”
In order to provide accurate 911 service, all residents in the county must have a physical address with GPS coordinates filed in the 911 system. The new addressing requirement does not affect addresses inside the boundaries of incorporated towns and cities.
Major County has been working for more than two years to implement the address requirement. Visual Lease Services Inc. was contracted, and has completed logging the GPS coordinates of all physical addresses in the county.
Lackey said the county currently is checking the accuracy of the GPS addressing system, in advance of implementing the E911 system.
Some questions and confusion have arisen, Lackey said, because some residents already have begun receiving mail based on their new 911 address, while also still receiving mail based on their old address.
Lackey said the new 911 addresses still are under review, and are not yet official. But, some of the addresses already appear on the USPS website, and have been gleaned from there by companies for mass mailings.
She said residents will be notified by letter from USPS when their new address is official, and she discouraged changing addresses and mailing labels until that official notification is received.
Adding to the confusion, Lackey said most utilities, builders and moving companies already are requiring 911 addresses before services can be rendered.
Lackey said 911 address requests for new residences within the county may be made at the Major County 911 Office, located on the second floor of the Major County Courthouse.
“This is not, however, a same-day turnaround,” Lackey said. “The process consists of completing an application that includes owner name, phone number and a physical location, including section, township and range. Next, a GPS point is taken of the actual driveway. Then, that information is taken back and entered into the 911 system for an address to be formulated. This process could take up to a week or more, depending on the situation. Major County 911 suggests allowing plenty of time for a 911-address request.”
Questions concerning the 911 addressing system or any address requests can be directed to Lackey on the second floor of the Major County Courthouse, or by calling the 911 office at (580) 227-3126.
More information on E911 is available through the Oklahoma Statewide 911 Advisory Board at www.ok.gov/911.