Prestonsburg 'ahead of the curve' with renovated 911 Dispatch Center

Published: Dec. 3, 2019 at 7:31 PM EST
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Prestonsburg Emergency Management just received a facelift.

The 911 dispatch center was remodeled after 20 years of wear and tear, bringing the response system into the next generation.

"Equipment that is not just with the time, but ahead of the time," Prestonsburg Police Sergeant Ross Shurtleff. "I'm already ahead of the curve. The dispatchers are ahead of the curve."

The new facility offers three new work areas with state-of-the-art emergency response access, back-up power sources that kick in in the event of power and generator failure and extra space to allow mutual aid to bring in communications from other areas if needed.

"We can handle anything that we want to throw at it," Shurtleff said. "Whereas before we had the people that could do it but they didn't have the equipment that they needed."

He said those workers were also a big reason for the upgrades.

"We needed those people to have everything they needed to do as best as their capabilities would allow them," Shurtleff said.

Among other things, the new work stations have memory customization to allow dispatchers to move the desk to positions they find most comfortable, then be able to get back to that position at the touch of a button based on who is working in the station.

Shurtleff said it will help boost productivity since the dispatchers work 12-hour shifts and are unable to leave the office.

"You can't call 911 and somebody not answer," he said. "Somebody's got to be there."

He said that kind of dedication is what makes the 911 dispatchers top-notch.

"Technology is great," he said. "But none of that means anything if you don't have professionals who sacrifice on a daily basis."

"During this remodel, 911 services never ceased in the City of Prestonsburg. And they never left that room," Shurtleff added.

He said they worked around the chaos during the six-week renovation, which comes as no surprise to anyone who works with them.

"The true first responders that are always heard and never seen," Shurtleff said. "There is no amount of technology that can duplicate that."

He said giving them a nice place to work is the cherry on top of bringing the services into the new decade. And, he added, it is all about serving the community.

According to Shurtleff, the project came with a $300,000 price tag that was covered mostly by grant funding, special funds and the money in the city's CMRS funds.

He said less than 2 percent of the project - around $6,000 - was covered by money from the general fund.

Shurtleff said the majority of the construction work in the center was also internal, allowing the city to put its "meticulous" Public Works employees on the project.

"Everybody in this city played a part in it," he said. "Because everybody wanted to see the best services we could provide being provided."

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