The county's 911 operators got an early Christmas present last week.
McDuffie residents are already benefiting from a recent upgrade to the county's 911 system. The new furniture and work stations were installed, and according to 911 Director Tracy Neal, the new equipment was a welcome change.
"The communications officers, they really like it," he said. "It's kind of like Christmas Day for them because they've been working with old equipment for a while."
During county commission budget hearings last August, the $157,000 upgrades were considered a long-shot until Mr. Neal told commissioners that the 11-year-old system was unstable and "could go at any moment," and in doing so would leave the county with no emergency contact system.
"We've had some instances where there were some anomalies to it," Mr. Neal said. "It just didn't act right."
Commissioners voted to fund the system upgrade despite a tight 2005 budget. The new up-to-date Motorola system will be on a five-year lease, and it is just what the department needed, according to Mr. Neal.
"It's more streamlined. It's all state-of-the-art equipment," he said. "It's what dispatch centers are built out of now as far as furniture and electronics and that kind of thing."
The outdated radio consoles were DOS-based which is no longer eligible for technical support. The new system is Windows XP-based, and if anything goes wrong, support is just a phone call away.
The upgrades did cause a few late nights for workers. At 3 a.m. on Friday, the last of the major work to the new system was completed. Several finishing touches are still underway but should be completed soon. Installation of the system was done in stages so as to not interrupt service to the county.
Mr. Neal was glad commissioners chose to fund the much-needed upgrade. He said they and the county's law enforcement divisions were a progressive bunch that continuously looked out for the best interest of the citizens.