Outdated dispatch system causing wait time for emergencies in Richlands

Local News

RICHLANDS, VA (WVNS) — Imagine calling 911 during an emergency, being transferred, and then put on hold. That is the reality for some living people in the southwestern part of Virginia.

Randy Davis, the Director of the Tazewell County 911, said all the other towns in the county upgraded their systems. Davis said the Richlands Police Department is the only one still self dispatching and using decades old equipment.

Because of that old equipment, Davis said the process to transfer calls is time consuming.

“On the western end of the county, we get the caller’s name, information, then we have to put them in kind of a hold status and we transfer them down to Richlands. Richlands Police Department then answers the phone call and we identify ourselves as Tazewell County 911, we have a transfer call for you, and then the call is taken over by Richlands Police Department,” said Davis.

A Richlands native and mother of two, Laura Mollo, researched the systems for over a year. She said there has to be a more efficient and safer way to handle emergency calls.

“They’ve got a pool, a trampoline, a two story playset and a go-kart, and at any given time I could need 911 and I want the quickest most efficient way to get to me.,” said Mollo.

According to court documents, the Tazewell Sheriff’s Office, the Tazewell County Fire and EMS Operations, and the Virginia Fire Services Board expressed their concerns to Richlands Police.

This is an excerpt from a letter written by the Virginia Fire Services Board to the Richlands Police Department.

The town of Richlands handles its own dispatch but all 911 calls are routed through Tazewell County initially. This has resulted in chaos and confusion in residents as well as delayed response to account for re-routing the call it is recommended the town of Richlands and Tazewell County consolidate into one dispatch system.

Virginia Fire Services Board

59 News reached out to Richlands Police Department for comment and they declined.

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