The Newberry County Sheriff's Office is the sole 911 center for all of Newberry County. The dispatch center answers all 911 calls and radio communications for the Newberry County Sheriff's Office, Newberry Police Department, Whitmire Police Department, and Prosperity Police Department. They also dispatch for EMS, Newberry City Fire Department, 11 volunteer fire departments, 7 volunteer rescue squads, and the Newberry County Haz Mat team.
These are truly the unsung heroes of public safety and work in an extremely stressful environment where stress and the mandate to multi-task are always present.
Currently Newberry County E9•1•1 has 14 full-time Telecommunicators (Dispatchers), and 4 Part-time Telecommunicators. Our state of the art E9•1•1 Communication’s Center staffs a minimum of three telecommunicators on duty on an assigned 12-hour rotating shift with a supervisor on duty from 6:00 am - 6:00 pm. A supervisor is on call after these hours. Each Telecommunicator is trained in every area of emergency communications, including fire dispatch, law enforcement dispatch, EMS/Rescue dispatch and call taking. These Telecommunicators are the first to speak with the hysterical caller, getting enough information to dispatch the correct emergency responders safely, and then further assisting with any additional requests from the responders.
The room contains five dispatch consoles – this is where all the action takes place. Each console is equipped with four 19-inch flat panel LCD monitors; one for radio, one for the phone system, one for Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD), and one for mapping. The last two can also be used for other miscellaneous operations as the necessary. There are four dedicated 9•1•1 trunk lines and four administrative lines for non-emergency calls. At a single button we can transfer calls to surrounding counties as well as South Carolina Highway Patrol. There are also two direct lines to VC Summer Nuclear Station located in Jenkinsville in Fairfield County on the border of Newberry County.
This room is also the hub of all radio transmissions for the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, the County’s Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services, Newberry County Memorial Hospital’s EMS, as well as the Police Departments for the cities of Newberry, Prosperity and Whitmire. Also, the center operates as a service unit to the Governmental radio, Animal Control, Public Safety, Public Works, and various utility services. Although not dispatched by our center, there are also various state law enforcement agencies that provide services to the county and often work with the local services including SLED (South Carolina Law Enforcement Division), SC HP (Highway Patrol), SC DOT (Department of Transportation), and SC DNR (Department of Natural Resources). The radio system is capable of receiving and transmitting over VHF and UHF bands as well as 800 megahertz bands.
Our center is prepared to handle all types of severe weather. As well as the Weatherwire system provided by the National Weather Service, the center also contains a satellite linked weather system that displays real-time radar images. Telecommunicators broadcast severe weather warning to the general public using County-wide public safety radio broadcasts for all watches and warnings. In the event of a tornado warning, several sirens located within the county are activated from this room.
A Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) is a facility operating on a 24-hour basis with a set of call takers authorized by a governing body and operating under common management which receives Enhanced 9•1•1 calls and event notifications for a defined geographic area. The facility then processes those calls and events by dispatching emergency services or passes the calls to appropriate public or private safety agencies. Newberry County E9•1•1 Communications Center is the singular PSAP serving Newberry County. Our PSAP is equipped with the latest technology in order to maintain Newberry County's commitment to quality service:
- Enhanced 9•1•1 on Wireline or Landline Calls – After implementing Basic 9•1•1 in June of 1993 that allowed a caller to dial 9•1•1 instead of a seven digit number from any phone at no charge to the caller, Newberry County 9•1•1 was enhanced on May 2, 1995. “Enhanced” means that when a Telecommunicator answers a 9•1•1 call the telephone number of the caller’s phone, the address where the phone was located, and the accountholder’s name information is provided on a computerized screen. This information is critical in providing immediate emergency services to citizens in need. The system allows the telecommunicator to record that information immediately in case the caller hangs up before the necessary information has been gathered. If that happens, the telecommunicator can call the person back. If there is no answer, a police officer is sent to the address to investigate.
- E9•1•1 Phase I & II on Wireless Calls – Wireless calls to the center continue to grow since many residents in the county are disconnecting their home phones and using their cells for all calls. Also, Newberry has many travelers that use Interstate 26 and other major routes through the county. Callers using wireless 9•1•1 are frequently not able to tell the telecommunicator where they are, simply because they are unfamiliar with the area they are in when they place the call. Since more and more 9•1•1 calls are being placed from mobile phones, such as when people witness a traffic accident or suffer a breakdown on the highway, callers not knowing where they are is a huge problem. Without location information, 9•1•1 telecommunicators have no way of knowing where to send help.
- Wireless Phase I provides the caller’s mobile phone number to the 9•1•1 telecommunicator answering the call, but still does not provide any location information. This is important in the event the wireless phone call is dropped, and may allow telecommunicator to work with the wireless company to identify the wireless subscriber. Phase I also delivers the location of the cell tower handling the call. Wireless Phase II allows the telecommunicator to receive both the caller's wireless phone number and their location information. This location information allows the center to use our mapping system to locate the caller. Both Phases I and II are used in Newberry County depending on the service sent to the center by the cellular provider.
- CAD – After verifying that the displayed information is correct, the E9•1•1 telecommunicator sends that information into the Computer Aided Dispatch system, or CAD. CAD provided a computerized way of entering and keeping track of the progress of a call.
- Our agency uses CAD to facilitate incident response and communication in the field. The CAD system is the first point of entry for information coming into the communication system. Typical CAD system functions include resource management, call taking, location verification, dispatching, unit status management, and call disposition.
- GIS Mapping – The Center’s CAD is linked with a GIS map so that when a call comes in the telecommunicator has a visual of where the call originated. This allows them to direct the emergency services quickly and accurately.
- TDD – TDD is accessed through 9•1•1, allowing callers with hearing disabilities to seek emergency assistance without delay. Callers can access the Center by typing a request that telecommunicators receive and respond to by typing replies. The Newberry County E9•1•1 Center has state of the art TDD devices that automatically pick up incoming TDD calls or signals from all phone lines.
Below is some useful information about calling 911:
- What is 9-1-1?
9-1-1 (pronounced Nine-One-One) is a three-digit phone number set aside for use as to report emergencies throughout the United States. While 9-1-1 is not available everywhere, it is hoped that in the near future you could go anywhere in the United States, and by dialing 9-1-1 will reach the correct agency when you have an emergency, without having to look up a phone number.
- Why was the number 9-1-1 selected?
The number selected to be used on a nationwide basis could not be one that was being used as an area code or the first three digits of a phone number, and needed to be easy to remember. Numbers for special services offered by the phone companies were three digit numbers (411, 611, etc).
- When do I call 9-1-1?
Not every single type of situation could be listed here, but whenever you have an emergency or problem that requires immediate assistance from Law Enforcement Agencies, Fire Departments, or Emergency Medical Services, then you should dial 9-1-1. If you or another person is in danger or in possible danger, then you should call.
- Does this mean I can call 9-1-1 any time I need to reach the Police Department, Fire Department, or EMS?
NO! Business related calls, asking for information, needing to speak with a member of one of these departments, checking on when you have to appear in court, asking where to pay traffic fines, questions about an EMS bill are examples of people who have abused the 9-1-1 service in other areas. This is not only just an annoyance, it can interfere with the 9-1-1 personnel trying to quickly answer and help people who have an emergency. Then how do I reach these other departments? You need to look up the number in the white pages of your telephone directory, under the name of your city or county. The numbers listed on the inside cover of your phone books are Emergency Numbers. I pay the phone company for an unlisted number.
- Does this mean that anyone who works at 9-1-1 can find out my phone number or address?
NO! The phone number and address information is stored in computers that remain under the control of Bell South. We will not see your phone number or address unless YOU dial 9-1-1. In that case, you are telling us you want us to know where you are because you need help. Your privacy is secure, because we can not just "look up" your phone number or address.
- Does this mean I can just dial 9-1-1 and say (for example), "I have a fire", and hang up?
While this would certainly get a fire truck to your location, it is not in your best interests, or ours. Personnel answering 9-1-1 need other information as well as ask where you are located. We never rely on the displayed information totally unless that is all we have to go on. Other information is vital and must be relayed by the 9-1-1 personnel to the Police, Sheriff, Fire, or EMS units so that they can be prepared to handle your emergency immediately upon their arrival. Never place yourself in more danger by staying on the phone when you can't. If the flames are racing across the house you're in...then, YES! GET OUT! Descriptions of suspects in law enforcement cases are critical. The responding police officer just might pass a person or vehicle, but won't know it is the suspect until they get to you, unless you help us out by giving a description.
- What do I say when I call 9-1-1?
Tell the person answering briefly what is wrong. Briefly is the key word! "My house is on fire", or "I hear someone sneaking around my house", or "I'm having chest pains" are brief descriptions. At that point the person answering your call will start asking questions. To a person who is upset, this becomes extremely frustrating, because they are not aware that most of the time another person is already sending help to you. The additional information that you are being asked for is provided to the police, fire, or EMS personnel by radio. Your call for help is not being delayed.