July 24, 2019
By Katie Lamb
The Johnson County 911 Emergency Communication Department (ECD), is the “Central answering point for all emergency calls in Johnson County. “We dispatch all emergency and non-emergency needs to Police, Fire Departments and Emergency Medical Services (EMS),” said Kevin Colson, Assistant Director of the Emergency Dispatch Center for Johnson County and the Town of Mountain City.
Colson, a lifelong resident of Johnson County and one of the Center’s original employees, hired in 1998, is also the Fire Chief at the First District Volunteer Fire Department in Laurel Bloomery, Tennessee and has been a paramedic for twenty years.
“There is a three-month training period to become a 911 dispatcher,” said Colson. “Not all who enter the training program will be hired for the position. The National Average says that only five percent of the population has the ability to be a dispatcher because of the stress level and the absolute necessity to be able to carry on two to three conversations at the same time and to be able to comprehend those conversations. This career is for individuals who can perform multiple tasks at once.”
When asked to share what he is most proud of as a First Responder, Colson replies, “For me, it is just able to serve my community for as long as I have.”
Not only does the Johnson County ECD answer calls and dispatch appropriate emergency services as needed, but the Center also provides general information, tips, and contacts for multiple types of inquiries and requests. Jerry Jordan, Director of the Johnson County ECD-911, noted that the Center is also responsible for assigning and charting all County addresses and for mapping all County roadways. Jordan highly suggests using herewego.com, the most accurate and recently updated Global Positioning System (GPS) for directions and travel guidance.
The Johnson County ECD-911 has ten full time and five part-time employees. There are two dispatchers for each twelve-hour shift, and the Center receives over a hundred phone calls per shift. Colson and Jordan agree that growth and expansion for Johnson County ECD-911 depend on the population of the County and call volume.
Colson expresses, “We want to save the taxpayers as much money as we can and want to grow based on the County and its emergency needs.”
One of the biggest challenges the Center faces is the lack of a visible address on the mailbox or structure, which makes it difficult for the Emergency Services to locate people in need. Colson also indicated how important it is for a caller to know his address, “Be aware of your location at all times. “If traveling, take note of street names and landmarks.” He also conveyed the importance “to listen to the dispatcher’s questions and answer those questions. “Our primary goal here is to get you the help you need as quickly as possible and to provide the best emergency services while doing so.”
For emergencies, please call 911. For non-emergencies, please call 423.727.7669. For more information, please go to www.johnsoncountytn911.com.