Town soon moving to county 911 system

Published 7:48 pm Thursday, March 2, 2017

BELHAVEN — Belhaven Police Department will soon switch over to the new, countywide telecommunications system.

The switch is a long time coming, with Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office debuting plans for the new system about a year and a half ago. Before the transition could happen, however, new radios had to be purchased and programmed, and the funds to do so were also needed, according to Woody Jarvis, Belhaven town manager.

It’s all part of an overall goal to revamp emergency services and bring them all under one roof with the county in charge.

The Town of Belhaven recently secured approximately $97,000 in funds from the United States Department of Agriculture. Just under a third of those funds went toward the updated radios, with the remaining balance going toward two police vehicles, Jarvis said.

Under the updated system, telecommunicators can more easily stay connected with officers when they are out on a call and ask for backup, if necessary. The county also debuted Emergency Medical Dispatch in January 2016, which allows telecommunicators to stay on the line with a caller until help arrives and potentially walk the person through live-saving measures.

“It just kind of ties everybody together,” Jarvis explained.

Jarvis said the new system is expected to save the town money in years to come. It’s also a vital way for Belhaven to stay connected — rain or shine, electricity or no — to first responders across the area and to deliver better emergency care to residents.

“It’s not just something off the wish list,” Jarvis said. “Making those lines of communication efficient and trustworthy, and having the ability to know if we reach out, somebody’s going to be there. … It’s kind of a necessary piece of technology.”

According to Jarvis, the sheriff’s office has the final say on when Belhaven officers go on line, but he estimates it to happen within the next 30 days.