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Lewis County to request discussion on merging 911 with Thurston County

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Do you know what to do if you accidentally dial 911? Do you know what information is crucial in an emergency? Here's what you need to know in North Texas to get the police, fire or ambulance service you need fast.
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Do you know what to do if you accidentally dial 911? Do you know what information is crucial in an emergency? Here's what you need to know in North Texas to get the police, fire or ambulance service you need fast.

Lewis County commissioners plan to ask Thurston 911 Communications for permission to study the feasibility of merging operations, the latest step in a long-running process that will determine the future of 911 service in the region.

“This letter is to formally request that the TCOMM Administration Board allow TCOMM staff and Lewis County staff to be allowed to continue these discussions and study the feasibility of regionalization of 911 Communications services between our two counties,” reads the draft of a letter that Lewis County commissioners plan to send to Thurston 911 Communications.

The request follows informal discussion between the county and TCOMM, a nonprofit agency. Last year, police and fire leaders in Centralia and Chehalis met with TCOMM exploring a partnership of their own, amid ongoing dissatisfaction with 911 services in Lewis County. Since then, the 30 or so first response agencies that partner with Lewis County for 911 service have urged the county to continue talking with TCOMM.

“We’re not looking for a silver bullet, and we’re not looking for something to solve all of our problems,” said Lewis County Manager Erik Martin. “We’re working on that already.”

The county says work to address concerns of partner agencies and 911 operations staffers has been useful, reducing complaints and offering better service. But many municipal and fire district leaders believe problems remain, and Lewis County also faces expensive upkeep and upgrade needs for its infrastructure, which could prove costly in the coming years.

“We do not come by this request without a great deal of forethought and deliberation,” reads the draft letter. “We have consulted with our local elected officials in all cities and towns in Lewis County. We have consulted with law enforcement officials and fire officials that utilize the 911 service here in our county. We have also consulted with officials at the state of Washington in Emergency Management/E911. There are many questions about whether or not a regional approach is right for Lewis County but the general consensus is that we owe it to our citizens to study and understand regionalization and see if the idea has merit for Lewis County.”

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