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Emergency calls from courthouse phones misrouted

Published 5:38pm Friday, March 7, 2014

Emergency calls placed through the Chilton County government system are being routed to Colorado.

In addition to the county courthouse, the county’s phone system also includes remote locations such as the tag office, the road department and Minooka Park.

The problem was discovered Tuesday when an individual standing in line at the Chilton County Tag Office required emergency assistance and employees at the tag office quickly dialed 911.

“I picked up the phone to call, and the dispatcher picked up and asked what city and state I was calling from,” Chief Clerk Angela Fulmer said. “I knew when she asked me that something wasn’t right.”

Fulmer was on the phone with the dispatcher for roughly three minutes when another clerk dialed the seven-digit emergency dispatch center in Clanton, and emergency responders were on the scene within minutes.

Fulmer later alerted Chilton County E-911 Director Dan Wright of the problem, and he later tested calling 911 from the county phone system.

Wright’s call was picked up by a 911 center near Denver, Colo.

“I don’t know the exact reasoning as to why this is happening, but obviously the calls are being misrouted at some point in the phone system,” Wright said. “We have not experienced any other issues with any other 911 calls as they are all coming in properly.”

Wright said for county employees using a county telephone needing to place emergency calls, they should dial (205) 755-1120, but there will not be any location data with the call.

Usually, a 911 dispatcher answering a call is able to pinpoint a location where the call was placed, which helps emergency personnel respond promptly.

County employees could also use a cell phone, but Wright said being inside a building at the time of the call would not allow accurate location data to be transmitted.

“In either case, location data, which is the most important thing on a 911 call, will not be available immediately to the public safety telecommunicator, which will increase the call processing time,” Wright said.

Chilton County Commission Chairman Allen Caton said on Friday the issue was being worked out with the telephone company.

“The problem is just internal; this isn’t one that affects everyone’s telephone in Chilton County,” Caton said. “We have a new phone system and we are getting the glitches out of it. It is a really good system, and it is like anything new: you have to get it worked out.”

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