Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

February 13, 2013

Board considering 911 Facebook page

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — Effingham County 911 officials are considering the creation of a Facebook page once the system's website is operational.

In response to a question at Tuesday's Emergency Telephone System Board meeting, board member Terry White said a Facebook page had been discussed. The page would not be an outlet for emergency communications, he said, but would instead be a clearinghouse for general information.

"We would say on the page that it's not for emergency communications," said 911 system Manager Jodi Moomaw.

White said the 911 Facebook page would probably serve much the same function as existing Facebook pages for his Altamont and Effingham City-County Ambulance services.

"We use ours for public service announcements and holiday greetings," he said.

As with any Facebook page, there's a concern about what could be put on it.

"Sometimes there is inappropriate content posted on Facebook pages," White said. "I check ours (at the ambulance service) twice a day."

Board member Mike Schutzbach said a 911 telecommunicator or other staff member might have to check a 911 Facebook page more frequently.

"If we go to Facebook, it creates a staffing concern," Schutzbach said. "You have to monitor it 24-7."

Moomaw said several county 911 systems in Illinois use Facebook to provide general information to the public.

White said Effingham County 911 wouldn't consider a Facebook page until after the website becomes operational sometimes in the next 90 days, if the full board agrees that it's a good idea.

Also Tuesday, Chairman Nick Althoff told the board Global Technical Systems has not been able to finish testing the proposed radio bridge because of other tasks.

The bridge was proposed as a way to facilitate proper communication between city and county law enforcement. As it stands now, Effingham County sheriff's deputies have trouble communicating with other agencies, especially outside their squad car, because they are on different radio systems. Several sheriff's deputies have told the board during the past year that the communication issue creates potentially dangerous situations for deputies, particularly in remote areas.

In action taken Tuesday, the board unanimously agreed to hold over the annual audit from West & Co. until its March meeting. West & Co. representative Amy Hartrich went over the audit with the board. Hartrich said there were no major issues.

Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or at bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com.