E-911 dispatchers need farm, livestock information

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By Josh Shepherd, News writer

In an attempt to cut down on accident and emergency reports of livestock wandering in the roads, the Harrison County E-911 Telecommunicators are asking local farmers to update information on the farm animals they own.

John Green, a dispatcher with the E-911 Emergency Telecommunications Service in Harrison County, estimates receiving about 10-15 emergency reports of farm animals wandering Harrison County roads every month.

Farm livestock pose an even greater hazard than deer in some areas of the county, particularly in the summer, Green said. 

But the threat, and the losses, are not just being suffered by drivers who get injured or whose cars get damaged.

The death or injury of livestock, particularly of cattle or horses, can mean the loss of thousands of dollars to a local farmer, Green said.

“In many cases, there has not been a wreck. We just get a report that there are farm animals in the road and we’d like to get a message to the farmer about it,” Green said.

When E-911 receives such a report, the dispatchers wind up making random calls to farm and home owners in the area to report that the animals have escaped, he said.

“That’s the best system we have right now. It’s not very efficient,” Green said.

In fact, it is a time-consuming process and it usually involves calls to people in the county who don’t own livestock, much less farms, commented dispatcher Crickett Woods.

“I don’t like bothering people like that, if I can avoid it,” she said.

As an answer to the problem, E-911 is attempting to update its database of farm owners and the kinds of livestock they have, Green said.

“If we have that information, then it would take just one or two phone calls to locate the right owner and warn them,” he added.

The entire survey can be completed by phone in three to five minutes. Green said farmers can just call the office at 234-7100 and answer the questions by phone.

They don’t need details, Green said. Just a general list of the animals the farmer owns and a broad description.

“We don’t need to know exact breeds. It’s better if farmers just list that they have ponies; brown and white horses; all-black cows, black and white ones or brown ones or whatever. Then give us an address and phone number,” Green said.

E-911 is hoping that local farmers will volunteer to help reduce an all-too common occurrence, Green said.

 “People can call anytime to provide information. All the dispatchers can take the information and we’re covering the office 24 hours a day,” he added. “Just call 234-7100 and help us out.”