Behind the times?
OKARCHE, Okla. (AP) - A new law that goes into effect next month
will require Oklahoma communities like Okarche and others across
the nation to provide 911 service.
Residents of the Canadian County town are among the last in the
state to be without the emergency call service, which has been used
in other states since the late 1960s.
The Association of Central Oklahoma Governments is coordinating
911 service for the western part of the county after area residents
approved a fee to fund it.
"There were in excess of 150 numbers in central Oklahoma you'd
have to remember for police, fire or EMS (emergency medical
services)," said Stephen Willoughby, 911 coordinator for the
association. "Now you have to remember one."
The new federal law, which goes into effect on Sept. 11,
requires someone to answer a 911 call no matter where a person
calls from, said Trish Weedn, Oklahoma Association of Regional
Councils executive director.
Technological limits kept western Canadian County from having
911 service, but the eastern part of the county has had the service
for 14 years.
In 1988, residents in eastern Canadian County agreed to pay 3
percent of their basic telephone costs to fund the system.
Residents in the western part of the county approved a 5 percent
cost March 14, 2000.
Geary, Union City and Okarche don't have 911 service, while
Calumet was added to the service last week. Workers are providing
physical addresses for homes that originally were identified by
The cost for western Canadian County's first year of 911 service
is about $88,000, Willoughby said. That doesn't include the
answering equipment already purchased, which cost more than
Customers will pay about 70 cents per month for each telephone
Other Oklahoma communities without 911 service include Purcell
in McClain County, and Chattanooga and Edgewater Park in Comanche
Comanche county residents passed a tax in 1994 to fund the
service for Chattanooga and Edgewater Park, but residents there are
still without the service. It was supposed to go online in January.
Kingfisher added 911 service in January.
Exactly how many Oklahoma communities are without 911 service is
unknown. Oklahoma Department of Public Safety officials say they
are working on a database of communities without 911, but won't
have figures until the end of August.
"There are still a lot of rural areas that don't have 911
service," Weedn said.
About 6 percent of the United States does not have 911 service,
according to a report by the National Emergency Number Association.
The areas not covered - about 231 counties - lack the money to
fund 911 service.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press
That is truly pathetic... There should be 0% of the country that doesn't have 911. This is one of those situations where the citizens don't know what's for their own good and a tax hike should be mandatory and up for debate or voting.... Unfortunately that's not how it's done...