Jennings County 911 currently employs 15 full time employees; these consist of a director, a supervisor, the IDAC’s coordinator and 12 public safety dispatchers. At most times there are three dispatchers on duty. Jennings County 911 provides radio dispatching services to the Jennings County Sheriff’s Department, North Vernon Police Department, Vernon Town Marshal, Jennings County EMS, Animal Control, and eight Fire Departments within the city and county. We work closely with Indiana Conservation Officers, Indiana State Police, and Stat Flight Air Medical on a routine basis.
In 2020 there were 22,825 calls for service on the center’s Computer Aided Dispatch Software — a decrease of 3,200 events over 2019. This decrease in CAD events created continues a trend starting in 2018 and is due to the number of traffic stops decreasing each year. Calls for service and emergencies continue to result is less time for traffic stops. Also far fewer calls were received during the initial COVID-19 shutdown. Note: 2014 numbers are artificially low due to the 14 days that the server was down. Calls included 22,395 driver’s license checks, 18,875 license plates, 11,512 criminal histories, and entered 648 warrants. Altogether the dispatch handled 160,359 IDAC’s transactions.
Total Incidents per Year
In 2020 Jennings County 911 Dispatchers answered 10,523 Emergency 911 telephone calls and 330 emergency texts. Dispatchers also answered 44,179 non-emergency telephone calls.
The next few pages break down our call volume by nature types.
(may not include Fire and EMS responses and only includes our dispatches, not other activity by department)
Jennings County Sheriff’s Department : 11,645
North Vernon Police : 11,111
Vernon Town Marshall : 9
Animal Control : 125
Fire Departments and EMS
Below is the total number of fire department and EMS dispatches broken down by department:
Campbell : 90
Geneva : 477
Lovett : 59
Montgomery : 78
North Vernon : 1,082
Spencer : 121
Vernon : 174
MUTC : 2
Dupont : 5
Westport : 22
Jennings County EMS : 2,315
The Auditor reports show total expenses for Jennings County 911 in 2019 to be $644,537.48.
Total revenue from the State 911 Board was $424,925.74. This revenue comes from fees on landlines and cell phones. The state collects this money and then distributes it to counties.
These numbers indicate Jennings County 911 brought in 66% of their operating budget in revenue. The remaining 34% comes from budgeted money from the City of North Vernon and from Jennings County. Jennings County also covers the employee benefits package including insurance and retirement costs.
Year in review
2020 was certainly a year to remember for Jennings County 911 as well as the community that we serve. Our biggest upgrade was the go-live of the Spillman CAD software. The agencies involved have faced challenges switching to this software but it has proven to be a benefit to all emergency departments. The training on this software was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in go-live being pushed back to the summer. The whole process proved to be difficult but 911 in partnership with the JCSO and NVPD successfully implemented this project.
911 upgraded the network in preparation for Spillman, this included the installation of the Spillman server, installation of a standalone GIS server, installation of a VPN, and we have begun installation of new network switches. Along with these upgrades the Sheriff’s Office purchased and installed a new Domain server to work with the VPN so that emergency responders on the road can access Spillman.
COVID-19 has had and continues to have a big impact on operations at 911. Early on in the pandemic it was recognized that our service could be at risk due to the pandemic. With the support of the Jennings County 911 board we took extraordinary measures to mitigate this impact. Early on we closed the 911 center to all first responders and guests due to the risk of exposure. We also implemented an on call schedule for employees that were on vacation so that in the event of an increase in call volume or infection at the 911 center we may recall them. This was never needed. In fact the first couple months of the pandemic proved to be much slower than normal. This can be attributed to the safety measures that the NVPD and JCSO implemented as well as the community lockdowns.
2020 saw us switch our emergency notification system to Code Red. This has increased the reliability of the National Weather Service rebroadcasts. We have also gained the ability to send out alerts based off of geographical areas. This is done by outlining an area in our county and only people located in that area receive the alerts. We recently used this with a natural gas leak.
As we look forward to 2021 the big focus is the installation of the new radio system at 911. This is being done to replace old radios and radio infrastructure that are considered end of life. This will ensure years of reliable emergency radio communications for 911 and the county’s first responders. We are excited that with new technology these new radios will open the door for future upgrades to include off site software based radio consoles. When this is realized we could evacuate 911 or split the staff up and with a network connection still have a fully functioning radio console at offsite locations.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic we have started looking at options to ensure continuity of service in the event that the 911 center had to be evacuated or if an outbreak of COVID hit the employees of 911. An option that we are looking closely at is IN digital’s Mevo Go system. This would allow us to set up 911 answering stations at any location that had either high speed internet or 4G cell service. Essentially we could set up fully functioning dispatch stations at off site locations and maintain 911 phone service.