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Hays County OKs centralized 911 center

A centralized 911 communications center is now on the path toward reality in Hays County after county leaders approved an interlocal agreement (ILA) for it Oct. 10.

Approval by Hays County Commissioners of the ILA, as well as associated bylaws, paves the way for the Combined Emergency Communications Center (CECC) and the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) that will serve the majority of the county.

The CECC is part of the county’s new public safety facility, which was approved by Hays County voters as the $104.6 million Proposition 1 in the county’s May 2016 bond initiative.

Debbie Gonzalez Ingalsbe, Hays County Pct. 1 Commissioner, said in a statement the CECC has been a “long time in the making.”

“We realized at least 10 years ago that the growth in our county warranted a more efficient, cooperative PSAP arrangement, both for the safety of our citizens and of our first responders,” Ingalsbe said. “We’ve worked toward that goal with studies and committees and looking at best practices. It’s gratifying that we are finally ready to put this into action.”

The CECC will provide 911 call-taking and dispatch services for Hays County, Buda and Kyle police departments, as well as the respective fire and EMS providers for all Emergency Services Districts (ESDs) within the county.

Hays County’s CECC will also provide services for the county’s five constables’ offices.

“The collaborative effort with county and city officials from all aspects of public safety has not only shown the drive to make improvements to emergency services for our citizens and responders, but also brought forth the importance of the 911 telecommunicator profession,” Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler said.

Will Conley, Hays County Pct. 3 Commissioner, said the CECC will allow for more efficiency, but also a “cost savings” due to shared resources and infrastructure.

It would also allow participating agencies to use the same Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system and lessen the transfer of calls among agencies, allowing for faster response, Conley said.

Clay Huckaby, Buda Emergency Service District No. 8 chief, said members of the Hays County Firefighters Association have been trying to get the ball rolling on the center for a decade. He said many are excited about the opportunity the center presents for the county.

The ability to process calls faster will allow for many ESDs to improve its “chute time,” which is the time it takes for a call to be processed and get officials en route.

Currently, departments such as Buda Fire and Police, which rely on the Hays County Sheriff’s Office dispatch center, can sometimes see a three to four minute  delay on getting paged to a call.

“It’s not going to decrease the response time from getting the truck to the scene,” Huckaby said. “It will decrease the time it takes to process calls and then get first responders out there.”

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