911 seeks updated contact information from businesses

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Warren County officials and 911 dispatchers are spreading the word on the importance of businesses updating contact information in the 911 database.

Through the cooperative efforts of the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce, dispatchers have received more than 100 updated forms in the past week, according to Nicole Vera, deputy director of the emergency response center.

“Hopefully those filling out forms will spread the word to their neighbors,” she said. The information is used to notify the contacts in case of a break-in, alarm, fire or other after-hours event.

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Christi Kilroy, executive director of the Chamber, reached Chamber members and courtesy members via e-mail to inform them of instructions that make the process easier.

“I think the fact that so many of us use cell phones and travel, we’re not as accessible,” she said. “It only takes about 5 minutes to fill out the form and save yourself a lot of strife.”

Kilroy said she chose her method of reaching the public after David McDonald, District 1 Warren County supervisor, told her of the issues that 911 face in an emergency.

“The main problem we faced was if someone’s business was broken into at 2 a.m., and they kicked in the door. If the alarm went off, someone from the police department or sheriff’s office would be sitting there waiting for the key holder to come out,” said McDonald.

Much of the current information is out-of-date, and dispatchers usually find that out only in the event of emergency, according to Vera.

“That usually causes a lapse in time for our responders,” she said. “We have had to contact the key holder with a suspect actually inside the building.”

Dispatchers are trying to find an easy method for everyone by making forms available that request an address, owner information, name and contact information of an alarm company, contact data of a key holder and all relevant information that responders might need, she said.

Gathering data for the current list has been an ongoing process of either receiving calls from business owners or by responders passing out forms after gaining control of an emergency.

“Several responses have been made without current information. That’s not the right time to get it,” Vera said.

Anyone interested in 911 emergency forms can also download them from the Chamber’s Web site, McDonald said. “We’re trying to make people aware it’s for their own good.”


Contact Tish Butts at tbutts@vicksburgpost.com