ZONETON, Ky. — Bullitt County launched its new E-911 dispatch center Wednesday morning, a move first responders and county leaders expect will help them respond to emergencies throughout the county.
"We had significantly large dead spaces in the county where police officers and deputy sheriffs and so forth had no ability to communicate by radio outside of those," Bullitt County Sheriff Walt Sholar said.
Sholar has served Bullitt County for decades and understands the importance of the 911 dispatch center when it comes to responding to emergencies. He said he first heard discussions about building a new dispatch center about a decade earlier but it wasn't until about three years ago that these talks turned into actual plans.
"The reason this has come about is because the popular boom in Bullitt County, Kentucky," he said. "We are one of the fastest growing counties in the state of Kentucky."
Bullitt County had experienced several issues over the past years with system failures, technological challenges and a need for more EMS and dispatchers. To meet the growing demands of the population and to address these issues, the county invested around $6 million into the new dispatch center.
"It feels absolutely terrific," Bullitt County Judge Executive Jerry Summers said. "This is something we believed in as an administration from day one for public safety."
The new center also comes with new technology, including a radio system that will let dispatchers clearly reach first responders and other emergency personnel almost anywhere in the county and surrounding areas.
"There's a very, very limited number of places in Bullitt County that these radios won't reach out and I'm told one of them is inside a deep freeze at a local food processor," Sholar said.
"An ambulance can now talk to a police person, to a fire department, back here to central dispatch, even to hospitals immediately, not having to go through multiple communications and losing time that folks in need desperately need," Summers said.
The new system is similar to one used by MetroSafe in the Louisville Metro area and will allow Bullitt County dispatchers and first responders to more efficiently communicate with them and others in the neighboring counties.
According to Summers, the old equipment will be donated to Bullitt East High School, where it will be used for a training program for students to become dispatchers.
They say all the improvements will make the public and first responders safer.
People in the center have been training in preparation for the start of operation at the center.
The dispatch center officially opened Wednesday morning.