Bill Looking to Improve 911 Call Centers

BENTON, Ark -- An Arkansas representative is working on a bill that will, hopefully, improve the service of 911 call centers.

911 call centers are the first place people call for a real emergency, but CJ Engle said several centers across the state face a real problem of their own when it comes to helping those in need.

"With wireless calls," said Engle. "It's the lack of better technology to locate where those calls are coming from."

Engle is the director for Saline County's 911 center, but there are also 911 centers in Bryant and Benton

"We see those issues of having to transfer multiple calls, extending that call time from agency to the other for that citizen that is in trouble and has to help right then," said Engle. "I feel that we work really hard to provide the best service for our communities."

But when every second counts, do three centers help or hurt people in his county?

"I think any area could support one," said Engle.

State Representative Scott Baltz (D-Pocahontas) is working on a bill to stop the building of new 911 centers for a few years and merge some existing ones. 

"If there is 3,4, or 5 dispatch centers in a population that's 20-25 thousand folks we need to look at that," said Baltz. "That's just putting the expense where those dollars could be used for something better in your county."

Baltz knows what centers face having spent more than 30 years of his life as a first responder.

"Sometimes you don't have minutes in emergency service," said Baltz.

"We're excited to see what happens," said Engle.

Representative Baltz said he expects to have his bill before state leaders next week.

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