E-911 approves policy for funeral escorts

Published 2:39 pm Friday, November 8, 2013

Funeral homes in Chilton County will now schedule funeral processions through an online system organized by Chilton County E-911.

Members of the E-911 board voted during their meeting Thursday to approve a policy for funeral escorts throughout the county.

The vote came after the Chilton County E-911 board passed a resolution that as of Oct. 1, the 911 service would no longer coordinate funeral processions.

The decision stemmed from a statewide fee scale that could potentially produce additional revenue, but the funding act stated that funding could not be used for services deemed to be non-emergencies.

One way for Chilton County E-911 to cut back on the department’s non-emergency workload was to not coordinate funeral processions.

The original plan was for the funeral homes to coordinate funeral processions by contacting local law enforcement agencies directly but local funeral homes reacted to the change with concerns of more work for them in coordinating the processions.

Chilton County E-911 Director Dan Wright worked to develop a policy for the funeral escorts to still contact E-911 but avoid calling dispatch with an online submission form through the new website.

“We were having to commit immediate resources to handle non-emergency calls,” Wright said. “Now, we can handle the e-mails as our workload allows and the efficiency measures we set out to obtain we will still have.”

Wright said he met with representatives of the three funeral homes in Chilton County including Ellison-Cleckler Funeral Home, Martin Funeral Home and Agee Brother’s Funeral Home regarding the new policy, and each funeral home was on board and supported the new plan.

Each funeral home will have a login for the website which will then direct them to select which cemetery the funeral will take place. After submitting the form, the funeral homes will receive an e-mail confirmation from E-911.

The new policy states that Chilton County E-911 will process funeral escorts for the law enforcement agencies they provide dispatch services for given that the funeral escort request is submitted by the requesting funeral home through the online submission form.

The funeral escort request must be submitted within a minimum of two hours prior to the start of the funeral, and if the funeral home has not received a confirmation e-mail from 911 that the request has been processed within one hour of the start time of the funeral, the funeral home will be permitted to call dispatch at 755-1120 to inquire about the status of the request.

The policy goes on to state that after the funeral home has completed the online form and submitted it online, an e-mail of the form and its content will be emailed to the dispatch center.

When 911 receives the escort request, the dispatch will enter the escort as a pre-planned call, then respond to the email informing the person requesting that the request has been processed.

Chilton County E-911 will then send a response saying, “Chilton County 911 has processed your escort request and that particular agency has been notified of the request.”

The email address to send the confirmation to will be in the submission form and Chilton County 911 will notify the on duty patrol supervisor of the agency whose jurisdiction the funeral procession will take place.

There is an exception stated in the policy that funeral escorts included in the Jemison Police Department’s jurisdiction will be assigned to the Chilton County Sheriff’s Department.

Aaron Ellison with Ellison-Cleckler Funeral Home was the only funeral home representative at the meeting Thursday and thanked everyone for working together to provide the new service.

“I think it is about having a better communication system and I appreciate Dan [Wright] coming up with this,” Ellison said. “There have been times when we didn’t know whether the county or city would be handling the procession and having the e-mail confirmation will allow us to know who is responsible.”

Wright said the online system can also be accessed through a smart phone.