WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – A familiar face and name is now in charge of Trumbull County’s 911 dispatch center.
The dispatch center is a critical part of the county and on Monday, Ernest Cook worked his first day as the new full-time 911 director. He has been working there part-time for a few years.
Last September, Warren City merged its call center with Trumbull County. Eight to nine dispatchers are on duty taking calls from across the county.
Trumbull County 911 is anticipating around 80,000 emergency calls this year.
“Our overall full-time employment has gone from 27 to 42,” Cook said.
Experience and training are required to ensure that the center has the best possible dispatchers.
“There’s about 180 days on-the-job training,” Cook said. “A lot of these people have first responder experience, whether it be in police or fire or EMS.”
Trumbull County’s 911 dispatch center took the call from Sunday’s shooting in Liberty that left an elderly man dead. Cook says the dispatcher did an excellent job.
Staying current with technology is also one of his top priorities.
“Emergency medical dispatch is extremely important. It’s a safety issue to our constituents,” he said. “There’s a lot of new things in the horizon. We’re looking at next gen software.”
Cook says a new 911 texting feature could be on the way.
The technology would allow callers to text dispatchers when they have an emergency.
“Essentially it’s going to be software packages from the phone companies themselves, the state is progressing toward,” Cook said.
He says the holdup is areas that don’t have 911 texting abilities.
“They’ve got to be able to ping you back and say your 911 area does not have texting abilities…Hopefully here before the end of the year, we’ll be able to get geared up and get ready to do that.”
Cook believes people will use the technology and says there is a need for it.
“I think we’ve overlooked special needs people too. What if they’re deaf or those situations?”
Down the road, he also wants to look at having a new state-of-the-art facility for Trumbull County dispatch.