Douglas County Commissioners approve replacing kaput emergency phone system

Douglas County Commission approved Wednesday the purchase of a new phone system for the Douglas County Emergency Communications Center following a system breakdown during the weekend.

Plans were already in the works to purchase a new system and were set to be approved at Wednesday’s meeting. However, following the breakdown, during which the feature to pinpoint a caller’s location stopped functioning, County Administrator Craig Weinaug approved the emergency use of nearly $225,000 to purchase the new system three days ahead of schedule. Commissioners approved that decision at its Wednesday meeting.

“The risk in terms of the system breaking down again was great enough that the sheriff justified to me that it was a true emergency,” Weinaug said. “All the information about what we were going to purchase was already figured out, and the documentation was already there.”

Weinaug said that although the problem was fixed temporarily and calls were rerouted through the KU Public Safety system, the risk of another breakdown was high enough to speed up the purchase.

The new phone system will be next-generation 911 compliant, which will be required of all 911 centers nationwide by January 2013.

“The current phone system that we have installed is obsolete, very outdated and costly to maintain,” Amanda Reusch, interim director for Douglas County Emergency Communications, said in a written statement. “The current equipment we have installed is no longer being made.”

The new equipment was ordered on Monday and is set to be delivered Friday.