The MAX Call-Taking system recently installed at the Frankfort-Franklin 9-1-1 Center in Frankfort, Kentucky, has proved to be so successful that the center has become a “lighthouse” site—a model for other agencies interested in the system.
9-1-1 administrators have many factors to weigh when selecting new communications equipment. Due to the critical nature of the services they provide, their equipment must be reliable, up-to-date, cost effective, and well supported. In recent years, it has also become increasingly important to ensure that 9-1-1 equipment is designed to accept a wide variety of “next-generation” messaging formats—such as text, video, and photos—in order to keep pace with the technologies most people are using.
These are some of the reasons why the Frankfort-Franklin County 9-1-1 Center in Frankfort, Kentucky, recently installed Zetron’s IP-based MAX Call-Taking system. The success of the implementation has made the system a showpiece for other agencies looking at updating to Next-Generation i3-ready 9-1-1 equipment.
Frankfort-Franklin County 9-1-1
Frankfort-Franklin County 9-1-1 is the public safety answering point (PSAP) for the city of Frankfort and surrounding Franklin County. “We’re a one-stop shop,” says Frankfort-Franklin County 9-1-1 director, Deron Rambo. “We take the area’s 9-1-1 calls and provide dispatching for the Frankfort Police Department, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Frankfort Fire and EMS [emergency medical services], Franklin County Fire and Rescue, Frankfort-Franklin County Emergency Management; city animal control; county animal control, and the Franklin County coroner. Last year we took nearly 150,000 calls.”
Another one bites the dust
As is so often the case, the situation that triggered the need for a new call-taking system was the fact that the agency’s existing system had reached its end of life. It was operating well enough, but if anything were to go wrong it could be difficult if not impossible to repair. “We couldn’t even get parts anymore,” says Rambo.
Making the case
In order be granted permission to obtain new equipment, Frankfort-Franklin 9-1-1 had to make a strong business case for it. But it was not a difficult case to make. “We went to our city leaders and explained what we needed and why,” says Rambo. “They gave us the commitment and support necessary to move forward with the project.”
Finding the solution
Once they had permission to proceed, Rambo and his team looked at a number of systems. “We met with a variety of vendors in search of the best possible product,” Rambo explains. “We wanted to be sure we were getting the best functionality, service, and value for the price.”
They also consulted with their ongoing service provider, RCS Communications. With offices in Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky, RCS provides a range of communications equipment solutions and services to customers throughout Louisville, Central Kentucky, and Southern Indiana.
RCS felt that of all the options being considered, Zetron’s MAX Call-Taking was the solution that would best meet the PSAP’s needs. “The Zetron platform is rock solid and offers the richest features and functionality,” says RCS Communications senior systems engineer, John Elder. RCS would also support the system after it was installed. This was no small thing. “I can’t speak highly enough of RCS,” says Rambo. “They’re very good at what they do, so their recommendation carried a lot of weight.”
After considering all of the possibilities, Frankfort-Franklin County 9-1-1 decided to obtain and install a five-position MAX Call Taking system. “When we took everything into account, it was pretty clear to us that Zetron offered the best technology at the best price,” says Rambo.
One factor that helped make the project possible was a funding mechanism that would allow Frankfort-Franklin 9-1-1 to purchase the equipment through a low-interest, lease-to-own program extended to them by the Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo).
“Thanks to help from both KACo and the Kentucky League of Cities,” explains Rambo, “we were able to purchase the equipment sooner rather than later. This was critically important, given the state of our existing equipment. We qualified for help from both organizations because we’re both a city agency and a county agency,” he adds.
The new solution takes shape
Elder says that RCS worked with Zetron from the start to create a solution designed to meet the customers’ needs. “We coordinated with Zetron’s sales and engineering staff before they sent us the system to ensure that it would be designed according to what the customer required,” he says. “Zetron then shipped the system to our service facility, where we staged it and put it into full operation before implementing it at the PSAP. The customer also came to our service facility during staging to review it.”
The MAX Call Taking system was then taken to the PSAP and installed several positions at a time, starting with two set up in a conference area for testing and training. When this phase was completed, the positions were all installed in the communications room, and the system was cut over.
“This all took place on November 13, 2014,” says Rambo. “It was my birthday, but I hardly noticed because I was more concerned about the cutover. Like any electronic equipment or device, you want it to run perfectly from the start. It doesn’t always turn out that way, but in this case, it went very well. We didn’t have any issues then, and we haven’t had any since.”
‘If you can dream it…’
The new solution is indeed delivering the updated functionality and next-generation capabilities the agency was seeking at a price they can afford. And it is backed by the ongoing, trusted services of RCS Communications.
The implementation has been so successful that Frankfort-Franklin 9-1-1 is serving as an example for other agencies that are considering MAX Call Taking and want to see the system operating in a real-world environment.
“MAX Call Taking is a great system,” says Rambo. “It’s easy to use, puts resources right at our dispatchers’ fingertips, and will give us a smooth transition to next-gen. Plus, it’s very configurable. You can start with a blank slate and make it look and sound exactly the way you want. If you can dream it, they can build it.”