ROCKINGHAM — State officials joined local emergency personnel for the dedication of Richmond County’s new Emergency Services Complex.
Eric Boyette, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Information Technology and chair of the state’s NC 911 Board was in town for the ceremony for the center that plans to be operational later this month.
The new state-of-the-art center will consolidate the current Richmond County 911 center with the dispatch desks of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office and Rockingham and Hamlet police departments.
The move was entirely funded by a $6.3 million grant from the North Carolina 911 Board approved in 2016.
The funding for the grants comes from the 911 surcharge assessed on wireless phones, said Richmond County Director of Emergency Management Donna Wright.
“I’m proud that the 911 Board played a part in making this community safer, and I look forward to seeing how this investment pays off for the people of Richmond County,” said Boyette, who delivered opening remarks at a dedication ceremony Wednesday. “Supporting our emergency responders, law enforcement, fire and rescue so they can provide great service to our citizens is a very important responsibility. This is a great day for everyone who lives in this community.”
The complex will allow Emergency Services to consolidate the dispatch services for fire, rescue, EMS and law enforcement into one room so that callers don’t have to be transferred depending on the nature of their call. It will hold nine telecommunications staff — with the ability to expand to 12 in an emergency — while the current building can only hold five.
Wright said it will take 26 total telecom staff to handle the increased call volume, and that Rockingham and Hamlet staff have been offered full-time positions.
“Richmond County is a prime example of how jurisdictions can think outside the box to improve and enhance 911 service delivery to citizens and visitors across multiple localities,” said Pokey Harris, executive director of the 911 Board. “I encourage (others) across the state to look at what Richmond County has done as a model for the next generation of public safety and emergency services as we all consider ways to embrace advancing technology and maximize available funding.”