Guthrie County E911 Office
200 North 5th Street
Guthrie Center, IA 50115
Ph: (641) 747-8320
Fax: (641) 747-8916
Hrs: 8:00 to 4:30 (M-F)
> South-Central Iowa Regional E911
South Central Iowa Regional E911
As mentioned on the website introductory page, Guthrie County is a
member of this Regional entity. When counties were just beginning to
develop E911 systems, there was concern that little counties with
small numbers of people couldn’t afford to develop a 911 system. It
was hoped that if counties worked together, hiring one consultant,
and pooling resources that a system could be funded.
The system was originally funded by the passage of the $1.00
surcharge on each phone line in the County. Guthrie County had only
a few thousand phone lines and therefore could generate little
money. But with numerous counties together, a bigger pool of money
was available. Cell phones, hand-held devices, computers and all other devices that can access 911 are also charged $1.00/month surcharge as of 2013. This
money goes into a State pool and each county gets a portion of that
fund as well. Over $425,000 in surcharge is currently being
collected annually by the Region.
As mentioned on the website introduction, Iowa Methodist Medical
Center through its rural development outreach program got nine
counties together for talks on working together. Initially, six
counties did decide to proceed. Through 28E agreements the six
counties agreed to pool all surcharge money into this Regional
entity. A twelve member Board was established to make all decisions
and to spend the funds. Adams County joined later and there is now a
fourteen member Board.
One consultant was hired and a common system was developed. But
local autonomy was maintained by having each Sheriff’s Dept. be the
answering point for that County. So nearly all calls within Guthrie
County come to the Guthrie County Sheriff’s Dept. That provides for
a much better system and at less cost than setting up one big
regional command center.
The seven counties in the Regional system are: Guthrie, Adair,
Madison, Union, Clarke, Taylor, and Adams (which joined after the
project started). Decatur and Ringgold were originally in on the
early discussions but chose to not participate. Although the seven
counties vary in size, we all have a lot in common due to our
primarily rural nature.
This philosophy has really proven quite successful. Pooling money
allowed for the development of a good common system, the hiring of a
professional data base manager, and providing good equipment and
maintenance programs to keep the whole system running smoothly and
accurately. This is an extremely expensive program to maintain due
to the continual need to upgrade computer systems, monitor phone
company data, and to keep track of all the paperwork involved.
Guthrie County’s two representatives on the fourteen-member Board
are Stephen Patterson and Robert Kempf (Emergency Managment). The
Board meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at
Creston at the Union Co. Emergency Management office (208 W Taylor St). The public
is always encouraged to attend to learn more about the program.
During the latter half of 2013 and into 2014, a new $1.3 million system was installed. With the change in computer technology, upgrading of the State of Iowa to IP technology, and lots of new available software, a system such as this must be replaced at least every decade or else it loses its functionality. There were a number of bugs that had to be worked out in the new system as would be expected in such a complex seven-county area dealing with several dozen telephone companies. The mushrooming of compuer and hand-held devices accessing of 911 has really complicated matters as well. However, this new system provides a lot better accuracy in the ability of PSAP (Sheriff's Department) to be able to locate a caller.
One thing to keep in mind that is VERY important: Because a 911 call goes through a LOT of telephone circuitry and because the system has to think to send the call to the right PSAP, there is a delay in 911. Keep in mind that when you dial 911 it will take 8-9 seconds for PSAP to receive the call and be able to answer you. Nine seconds can seem like forever in an emergency, but DO NOT HANG UP. The call will be answered.
The office for the Regional Board is in Bedford. Our data base
manager/office manager is Diane Sefrit. If you have special questions or concerns, she can be reached at 712-523-3367. She serves full time to
monitor the system, input all changes in addresses/phones,
troubleshoot problems, deal with our equipment maintenance
companies, etc. This involves a lot of time and an expertise in
computer systems and programs. It is a full-time operation to keep
the system operating properly and it would be very difficult for any
individual county to provide such expertise alone. Even with seven
counties together the amount of surcharge revenue generated is not
very great compared to places like Polk, Story, or Pottawattamie