Inauguration Week at JSU

A bird's eye view of the Jacksonville State University campus taken from atop Houston Cole Library.

A recent change to the address numbering system on campus at Jacksonville State University is expected to result in faster response times by emergency personnel.

In Monday’s Board of Trustees meeting, administrators discovered that the university’s buildings all shared the same address: 700 Pelham Road North. They did not previously know this, according to Jim Brigham, chief audit executive for JSU.

“We didn’t even know that on the 911 map, JSU was only listed as one address,” Brigham said.

According to the director of Calhoun County 911, Kevin Jenkins, all of JSU’s buildings have shared the same address in the system for 28 years. In August, however, Calhoun County 911 proposed a partnership with the university to help create specific addresses along with other services that will reduce emergency response time.

Assigning every building a unique address will lower the response time of emergency responders when there is an urgent situation — and there are always situations, according to Jacksonville Fire Chief Wade Buckner. He said the department responds to calls from the university about five times a week.

Calls made to the UPD have an average response time of five to six minutes, and calls made to 911 have an average response time of about three minutes, depending on where the call originated from. He said creating specific addresses could reduce the response time by at least a minute or two.

Sometimes a minute is all it takes to make a difference, according to Alabama Sen.Vivian Figures (D-Mobile), a JSU trustee.

“I understand as a person how important it is that when you call 911, you want that police or that ambulance to get to you as soon as humanly possible because just a few minutes could mean the difference between life and death,” Figures said.

Figures, who is also a mother of three grown sons, said reducing response times in emergency situations will also be a comfort to parents because they will know their children are safe and getting the best care from the university.

Jacksonville police and the county 911 board already assigned an address to every university building, according to Chief Shawn Giddy, the director of public safety at JSU. He said the addresses were assigned on Oct. 6.

When the partnership between JSU and Calhoun County 911 is finalized in January 2017, the agency will also assist UPD with law enforcement telecommunications, according to Jenkins.

He said this means all emergency calls made to the university would be rerouted to Calhoun County operators, who are highly trained and certified.

Jenkins said calls being answered by the county’s 911service would benefit the university because it would also reduce response time.  He said once a call is answered, one operator will deal with the caller.

“It would eliminate the middleman which could save time,” Jenkins said.

Another benefit is that all calling information would be shared with the JSU police in real time, according to Jenkins. He said as the call is going, the information will be recorded and shared, so emergency personnel can move as fast as possible.

Jenkins also said the agencyhas between five and nine certified operators available at all times on a typical day and can easily have more in case of major emergencies, whereas JSU police only have one student worker.

“One student worker with one phone can only do so much,” Jenkins said by phone Friday. “We’re in a better standpoint to provide the needed services.”

Katelyn Schneider is a Jacksonville State University senior majoring in communication who is working as an intern in The Star’s newsroom.