Lexington County’s new 911 call center ready to open soon

tflach@thestate.comSeptember 11, 2013 

Michael Kalec, Lexington County Emergency Manager, works on setting up the the new Lexington County emergency call center. The center will be operational in about a month.

TRACY GLANTZ — tglantz@thestate.com Buy Photo

By the numbers

Lexington County’s new emergency response center:

$12 million - Price tag to build and equip it, with a third of that for technology

15,000 square feet - Size, with addition of 3,000 more square feet possible

12.2 miles - Length of cables for its features; some equipment is wireless

20 - Employees typically working at any time in the restricted-access facility, but it can hold as many as 75 to oversee disaster relief.

A center that will enhance Lexington County’s response to calls for emergency help will open this fall.

Finishing touches are being put on the facility that will house 911 emergency call dispatchers and be the site for coordinating response to storms and disasters.

Plans call for the center to be in operation by Nov. 1, although some features may come into use sooner.

Its completion is a milestone, County Council chairman Bill Banning said. “It assures that service won’t be interrupted in a disaster and we’ll be able to take care of our citizens,” he said.

County officials say it’s a state-of-the-art center that will assure calls for deputies, firefighters, medical care and others get through even in the worst calamities.

It’s equipped with back-up networks designed to survive Mother Nature’s worst.

“Everything is fully redundant,” county administrator Joe Mergo said. “It will be self-sustainable.”

The center – deliberately a nondescript beige structure behind other buildings – is located in a complex of nine facilities three miles west of county headquarters in downtown Lexington.

It replaces a 911 call center in the basement of the county administration building that officials say is outdated in space and less secure.

And the emergency response room with big-screen communications screens ready to use in an instant replaces a make-shift one in nearby facilities that took more than four hours to set up.

The center also houses the county’s data network, with reserves scattered in computerized areas elsewhere.

Building and equipping the center has taken 15 months after more than four years of planning. “We vetted through all the what-ifs,” Mergo said.

Designing it was “a marriage” of traditional construction with new technology, said Mike Ujcich, the county’s chief information officer.

There are hometown touches.

The carpet has subtle garnet and black colors of University of South Carolina teams. The bamboo impression on its concrete exterior lets rain run off the roof and steel protective grid on one side doubles as a trellis for vines planted at its foot.

For county public safety director David Kerr, the center puts him on site daily with the team he oversees instead of at an office in the county administration building a 10-minute drive away.

“We’ll be in a facility built for the services we’re providing,” he said. “It’s amazing to see its culmination.”


By the numbers

Lexington County’s new emergency response center:

$12 million - Price tag to build and equip it, with a third of that for technology

15,000 square feet - Size, with addition of 3,000 more square feet possible

12.2 miles - Length of cables for its features; some equipment is wireless

20 - Employees typically working at any time in the restricted-access facility, but it can hold as many as 75 to oversee disaster relief.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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