The Queen Anne’s County Department of Emergency Services recently received two grants from the Emergency Number Systems Board, also known as the 9-1-1 Board.
The first grant is $799,401 and will be used to update the existing Enhanced 9-1-1 phone system in the Emergency Operations Center at DES.
“This will allow us to upgrade to a system with increased capabilities; one that is more efficient and allows faster use of the mapping system,” said John Chew, director of the department.
The department’s current phone system is ten years old and this grant includes funds for all hardware and software to bring the 9-1-1 system to next generation state of the art technology, he said, including the digital map developed in partnership with the Department of Land Use, Growth Management and Environment.
The money will also provide 36 new telephone lines for the Emergency Operations Center, which currently has only 12 lines and 26 seats. “Robbie Blackiston was instrumental in making this happen and we expect a seamless transition to the new system without any interruption,” said Chew.
The second grant of $2,500 will be used for public information educational material. “This material provides public health and safety information to the community…Karen Berg and the department’s Public Affairs Committee deserve all the credit for this grant,” said Chew.
The 9-1-1 Board was created in 1979 as a state funding source for emergency operations. In Maryland any communications device which has the ability to call 9-1-1 is assessed a monthly fee of 25 cents and in Queen Anne’s County the monthly fee is 75 cents. The county fee is collected at the state level and put into a trust fund, which is allocated through grants to local 9-1-1 centers across the state.
“The Board reviews all requests to be sure the project will enhance the 9-1-1 system and make it more efficient and responsive,” said Gordon Deans, Executive Director of the Maryland 9-1-1 Board. “If all conditions are met, the grant money is allocated,” he said.
“John Chew has been one of our pioneers…he is always one of the first ones in the state to come in with a proposal to make his department more efficient in order to enhance public safety for the residents of Queen Anne’s County,” said Deans.