Sumter County Announces Major Upgrade to 911 Emergency Dispatch Operation

By Marv Balousek


January 19, 2022

Sumter County may be the first county in the nation to upgrade its 911 emergency dispatch operation to what has been called a next-generation system.

Working with the companies Lumen and CenturyLink, the Jan. 12 upgrade allows transmissions of texts, images and videos to 911 communicators to report emergencies or provide more information for first responders.

Assistant County Administrator Stephen Kennedy discussed the upgraded system Tuesday night with commissioners at a workshop meeting.

“We’re the first in the state of Florida and in the country to move in this direction,” he said.  Lumen also is installing its system in Nebraska, which is expected to be completed at the end of the year, and southern California.

Kennedy said most of the 92,399 emergency calls received last year came from cellular or VOIP (voice over internet protocol) phones and the new system takes advantage of software and information technology to handle these calls.

Emergency calls are routed first to the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, then to the Emergency Communications Center for dispatch to other responders. Last year, Kennedy said about 90 percent of the calls were transferred to the center within 32 seconds.

Last Oct. 1, the Emergency Communications Center was transferred to the county from American Medical Response (AMR), which currently operates the ambulance service. AMR’s contract expires later this year.

Since the transfer, Kennedy said communicators have worked harder to provide CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) instructions to callers when needed.

The county also is increasing its radio capacity and upgrading its radios to units that transmit locations.  “It allows us to have more people talk at the same time,” he said.