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April 15, 2014

EMA Director discusses 911 with City Council

TIFTON — The Tifton City Council heard from Tift County Emergency Management Agency Director Jason Jones at a recent city meeting. He briefly discussed 911 dispatch protocol — how they receive and dispatch calls.

He said they answer about 80,000 calls a year. When they receive a call, they try to get as much information as they can in the shortest amount of time possible. The main questions they focus on include the type of call, location  and name of caller.

"Those calls are taken by one of our call takers. That information is inputed into a computer and it's sent to the appropriate dispatcher. They read that information off their screen and send a unit," he explained. "We try to do that as quickly as possible in every case that we have."

Jones mentioned a shooting incident that recently occurred in south Tifton, during which two different people called 911. During those two calls, steps were quickly taken to get the information from the callers and dispatch an officer to the scene, as well as paramedics.

"I would like to tell you that everybody who calls 911 is very cordial, very concise and polite," he said, noting that's probably the exception instead of the rule. He offered to e-mail a call to the council to listen to at their leisure to see an example of what his employees have to deal with when those types of calls come in.

He said within about a minute or less, they can have someone headed that way, understanding that they're not going to please 100 percent of the people 100 percent of the time.

"But, we sure do try," he said.

Jones said when a person calls in from a landline phone number, they get the number and address which pops up on the screen. When dealing with prepaid phones, they don't necessarily have all of that ID information, so they have to ask questions.

"Lots of things going on at the same time," he said. "We don't wait until we get all of the information to start sending somebody. Once we know that something has happened and they need an ambulance, the fire department or the police department, we try to get those guys en route within the first few seconds of getting a call."

Mayor Jamie Cater thanked Jones for the good work that he does as the director and for being a veteran.

Also during the meeting, City Manager Larry Riner gave a city update. He announced the city is now on a new billing system. He thanked the billing, finance and customer service departments for their hard work during the conversion from the old system to the new system.

"It's up and running," he said. "It's doing very well."

Riner also noted Tift Theatre Managing Director Robert Reid Goodson got a call from Applebee's representatives who are requesting that they provide a collage of photographs and historic events of Tifton. He said a city of Tifton mural will be displayed prominently in Applebee's following their renovations. This is being done for the local theater.

Also, the council decided to table the alcoholic beverage license for Sonya's Place (formerly known as Lill's Bar), located at 116 Poplar St., for April 24.

Vice Mayor Johnny Terrell said since he's been on the council, there have been some terrible fights there over the years when it was known as Lill's Bar.

He said he asked the owner to meet with him about these concerns. He mentioned one man is paralyzed from his waist on down due to a fight that occurred there. He said he's not trying to stop the owner's business, but he does think they should bring her in to discuss the matter and that they will not tolerate incidents such as this.

Terrell suggested that they table the matter until they hear from the owner.

"It's a great concern and it's coming from my constituents," he said.

To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.

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