Regional communications center to get phone upgrade

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- The Grand Junction City Council on Wednesday night unanimously approved phone upgrades for the Grand Junction Regional Communications Center.

Staff at the center said their current system is outdated and is in need of an update. This new project will modernize the services offered at the communication center.

The center said it gets 1,000 to 1,200 calls each day, providing service to the people that need it most.

"We provide service for 23 agencies in Mesa County," said Paula Creasy, the center's manager. "There comes an end of life, there are system updates they don't accept as a new one would," Creasy said.

Creasy said it's time to replace it with something more modern.

"Everybody seems to have a smart device all the time and the ability to send a text 911 or send a video to 911," she said.

But all of that is incompatible with the old technology. So they asked the city council for about $400,000 to install a new system.

"It's a necessity at this point. It's not something hopefully we can get it, we have to get it and sooner or later," said Dany Searcy who works at the center.

With the new technology, people will be able to text 911, as well as send photos and videos.

"We could then transfer it to [first responders] on their mobile device or laptop and computer and same with data," said Creasy.

"It will help out people that have those disabilities that can't call us on the phone so they can write us something," said Searcy.

The new system will also work together with the Garfield County 911 call center.

"Sometimes when you're on a cell phone and you call 911, you may be inside our county but it can go somewhere else," Creasy said.

With the outdated technology, transferring a call from Garfield County can be quite the process.

"They'd have to manually transfer you or put you on hold and call us and give us some info, or they may have you hang up and call back," Creasy said.

That's an issue when time is of the essence.

"Being able to transfer that emergency call seamlessly will save minutes seconds and lives in the future," said Creasy.

The funding will come from the 911 surcharge that is on phone bills every month, which is $1.30 in Mesa County.

It's going to take at least until May or June next year to implement the new system, the center said. They have to build the servers and develop the network and train the staff on it.

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