In with the new, out with the old: Eielson updates E-911 system

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Beaux Hebert
  • 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Emergency services on Eielson Air Force Base have recently updated the Emergency 911 call system.

“The new system that we are having installed is an updated Vesta E-911 system,” said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Johnson, the 354th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency control center section chief. “Before switching to this system, we were operating off a legacy Vesta system which provided limited information and support. The new system provides enhanced additional location information and real time caller addresses. This drastically decreases the timeframe our dispatchers spend on information gathering which, in-turn, significantly speeds up the emergency response process for the people in need of help immediately.”

Emergency situations can be “chaotic” in nature and every second counts. This updated version will allow dispatchers to communicate to first responders faster and more accurately.

“All emergency cell phone calls first go to the Fairbanks North Star Borough dispatching center, call takers then transfer the call to our 911 center,” said Johnson. “[Now] if the 911 call comes from a landline on base, we will automatically know where that person is calling from. Additionally, anytime a 911 call comes from an area off the installation, we can pull additional location information and relay that to the responding teams.”

The previous system Eielson first responders used was 10-15 years old and was no longer supported by its original manufacturer. Hill Air Force Base, Utah, led the effort for a technology refresh at eight sites across the Air Force. Bobby Blevins, senior engineer and project manager for Compass Point, led the training for Airmen who would be using the updated system.

“We conducted dispatcher training for those who will be answering the incoming calls,” Blevins said. “We also did an operations and maintenance course for individuals handling the backroom equipment.”

Not only is the Air Force adopting this new system, but other military branches in the Department of Defense are currently using it as well to ensure first responders are always well-informed during crisis situations.

“My catchphrase is ‘it’s not good because it’s everywhere, it’s everywhere because it’s good,” Blevins said.

Airmen at Eielson have left good reviews and are excited to use the updated program.

“I think it will be very beneficial to our dispatching capabilities,” said Senior Airman Troy Trager, a 354th CES fire dispatcher. “It’s a completely new system, yet familiar enough to make an easy transition from the older system, so that’s nice. The training we received was very beneficial and will allow us to be a more effective response force.”