Lincoln County marks 20 years of E911 service
Tuesday, Sept. 30, marks the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the Lincoln County E911 center located at the Sheriff’s Office. On that date in 1994, then Sheriff Harvey Woodward placed a ceremonial 911 call to launch the countywide enhanced service.
Prior to September of 1994, 911 service was available in Lincoln County. But it was limited to the 453 telephone exchange and was not enhanced. All of those calls were answered at the Tomahawk Police Department.
The enhanced 911 service was introduced by Sheriff Woodward and approved by the County Board in 1993. Retired Chief Deputy Bob Lee and retired Emergency Management Director Brian Sladek were the main architects of the project which took over a year to launch after gaining board approval.
Since 1994 the communications staff at the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office has handled an estimated 75,000 calls to 911 providing life-saving instructions to callers use state of the art computer and mapping systems.
Numerous changes have come to the 911 center in 20 years including:
-Complete 911 responsibility countywide beginning in 2002 as Tomahawk PD discontinues their answering point.
-Addition of two first responder groups and one additional fire department since 2005
-Partial combined dispatch with Merrill Police Department begins in 2002, completed to full combined dispatch in 2005.
-Partial combined dispatch with the Tomahawk Police Department on overnights and weekends beginning in 2010.
-Introduction of mobile data terminals in squad cars in 2007
-Computer and technological advances too numerous to mention
The actual number of calls to the communications center has grown. Initially around 5,000 calls for service in 1994 soon grew to around 12,000 and now averages around 24,000 per year.
Sheriff Jeff Jaeger remarked on the anniversary of the service. “I was a patrol deputy when 911 service began and I have watched as the center has transformed into a professional answering point for just about every need countywide,” he said. “From the smallest of incidents to life changing situations, they are consummate professionals that enable others to respond quickly and effectively. Their calm in critical and chaotic situations is an amazing skill that never ceases to astound me. I am very proud of the dedication to duty.”