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County, military base merge emergency call centers

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Leaders from Joint Base Charleston and Charleston County signed a memorandum of agreement last week to combine their emergency call centers, according to both organizations.

Charleston County Consolidated 9-1-1 Center will now answer and process all 9-1-1 calls and texts for Joint Base Charleston and send emergency information electronically to base officials. The center will then dispatch the 628th Security Forces Squadron, 628th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department or Charleston County EMS, a news release said.

Previously, some emergency calls were routed to the base’s fire department or Berkeley County only to be routed back to the base, with the caller repeating the same information each time they were transferred. Also, calls from cellphones on the base were answered by Charleston County, but calls from landlines were answered by the base, the news release said.

The partnership is expected to shorten response times of military and civilian first responders. 

“The goal of this relationship with Joint Base Charleston is to ensure prompt, efficient response and assistance to those requesting emergency service,” said Jim Lake, director of Charleston County Consolidated 9-1-1 Center, in the news release.

The county and base will share live-feed response maps showing current emergency responses, and Charleston County EMS ambulances will now have access to base maps through GPS units instead of having to be escorted by base security forces.

Additionally, the partnership will reduce costs by eliminating the need to refresh the Air Force 9-1-1 system. Every five years, the system needs a $500,000 refresh. Through the partnership, the cost will be reduced to $325,000, the news release said.

“This is a great example of a partnership achieving mutual value and benefits, creating a win-win for our Joint Base service members and families and for the surrounding communities,” Joint Base Charleston Commander Col. Rob Lyman said in a statement.

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