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Thanks to Martha Carter and Michael Wainrightfor providing the following information.

I. General Characteristics – 9-1-1 in Louisiana is a parish-based collection ofsystems with a myriad of configurations. All are similar in some ways similar,but no two systems are identical. The differences are in small part due to themanner in which they were created, but are primarily a reflection of theirlocation and the political realities of that location. There are issues andproblems, which are common to each Communications District but the solutionsare, more often than not, unique to that particular Communications District.

The establishment of a single, 3-digit phone number for citizens in need offire, medical or police emergency services has mandated a degree of unificationand uniformity of operation among public safety entities which were historicallyaccustomed to functioning autonomously. Prior to 9-1-1 a citizen needing a firedepartment would dial that agency’s 7-digit number and the fire department’sinternally developed protocols would govern how that call was handled. Now thatcaller dials 9-1-1. When a citizen dials 9-1-1, the call is automatically routedto a pre-determined location, known as a Public Safety Answering Point [“PSAP”].The call is answered by a call taker who determines the nature of the emergencyand either handles the requests for emergency services or routes it to theappropriate public safety agency for emergency response.
Who performs the call taker function and what happens from that point varieswidely from Communications District to Communications District. SomeCommunications Districts hire their own call takers some use Sheriff Departmentemployees, some use Fire Department personnel and others use combinations. 9-1-1became the catylist for all public safety agencies to work in concert. Eachconfiguration is a reflection of the particular characteristics of the Parishwhere it operates.

II. The 9-1-1 Concept – The concept of providing a three digit number for use inrequesting emergency services originated in England in 1937. In 1958, theInternational Association of Fire Chiefs introduced the concept in the UnitedStates. The adoption of an abbreviated, uniform, easy-to-dial andeasy-to-remember number for emergency services was recognized as an importantpublic safety innovation.

In 1968, the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement recommended theestablishment of an emergency number, and the numbers “9-1-1” werereserved by AT&T for that purpose. In 1973, the Office of TelecommunciationsPolicy issued a national policy statement recognizing the benefits of 9-1-1 andencouraging nationwide adoption of the number.

III. Legislative History in Louisiana – In 1979, Lafayette Parish pioneered thecreation of a 9-1-1 system for its area. House Bill 480 of 1979, authored byRepresentatives LeBlanc, Bares, and Thompson and handled by Senators Mouton andChampagne on the Senate side, established the first Communications District inthe State of Louisiana for the purpose of establishing and maintaining anemergency telephone service for Lafayette Parish. This enactment, which becameAct #788 of 1979, set the precedent for a 9-1-1 system with each CommunicationsDistrict boundaries being based on the geographical boundaries of each of thesixty-four parishes in Louisiana.

In 1982, House Bill 1245 introduced by Representative Landrieu, created theOrleans Parish Communications District [Act 155 of 1982]. Likewise, JeffersonParish Communications District was created by House Bill 1208 that same year[Act 156 of 1982].

In 1983, House Bill 1326 created separate Communications Districts for theParishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, LaFourche and Terrebone [Act 490 of 1983].

Representative Downer’s House Bill #1065 of 1983 enacted the generic statelegislation found at R.S. 33:9107 et seq. which established the overallmechanism for creation of Communications Districts in each of the remainingparishes [Act 550 of 1983].

House Bill #1065 provided that Parish Policy Jurors or a board named by thePolicy Jury could operate a Communications District to establish and operate a9-1-1 system for their parish. The law permitted a wide-range of methods bywhich Communications Districts could operate the system.
§ 9105. Methods

The emergency telephone system shall be designed to have the capability ofutilizing at least one of the following four methods in response to emergencycalls:

(1) “Direct dispatch method”, that is a telephone service to acentralized dispatch center providing for the dispatch of an appropriateemergency service unit upon receipt of a telephone request for such services anda decision as to the proper action to be taken.

(2) “Relay method”, that is a telephone service whereby pertinentinformation is noted by the recipient of a telephone request for emergencyservices, and is relayed to appropriate public safety agencies or otherproviders of emergency services for dispatch of an emergency service unit.

(3) “Transfer method”, that is a telephone service that receivestelephone requests for emergency services and directly transfers such requeststo an appropriate public safety agency or other provider of emergency services.

(4) “Referral method”, that is a telephone service that, upon thereceipt of a telephone request for emergency services, provides the requestingparty with the telephone number of the appropriate public safety agency or otherprovider of emergency services.

The governing authority of the district shall select the method that itdetermines to be the most feasible for the parish.

The enactment of Act 550 of 1983 confirmed that Louisiana had elected toimplement its 9-1-1 systems on a Parish-by-Parish basis. Further theincorporation of four general methods of operation was a recognition that theneeds and abilities of the parishes varied. Other states approached 9-1-1implementation on a State-wide basis, while others used a regional approach.

The initial creation of Communications Districts for Lafayette, Orleans,Jefferson, St.Bernard, Plaquemines, LaFourche and Terrebone Parishes byindividual acts and the subsequent adoption of the generic legislation for theremaining parishes has often been a source of confusion. Each of the individualacts and the generic bill are slightly different. When subsequent events anddevelopments have created the need for legislative revisions those differenceshave expanded. Further, legislation enacted over each of the past three yearshas generated additional differences even among the parishes which are governedby LSA-R.S. 33:9101 et seq. Those differences, coupled with the operationalvariances in the various Communications Districts, make any centralized approachwith statewide application all but impossible to fashion.

IV. Recent Legislative Enactments – Recent experience with in globo attempts tolegislatively address emerging 9-1-1 issues has shown how difficult that taskcan be. In 1995, in an effort led by Caddo Parish Communication District #1,House Bill 1969 was drafted to comprehensively address a number of emergingissues affecting 9-1-1. The legislation sought to: 1) better define 9-1-1’sexpanding mission; 2) provide a means for sparsely populated rural parishes toprovide basic 9-1-1 service to its citizens; 3) convert its funding basis and 4)assess a 9-1-1 fee on new communication technologies.

This bill was derailed primarily over the issue of whether or not a newcitizens’ vote would be required before cellular customers would be assessed a9-1-1 monthly service fee. Ultimately the bill passed the House but failed towin enactment when the Senate adjourned sine die with the bill sitting third onthe calendar.

While H.B. 1969 of 1995 did not pass, local bills incorporating many of thechanges did pass for Lafayette Parish [Act #1241], Orleans Parish [Act #726],and Jefferson Parish [Act #447] in that session. These Acts amended the originalActs which created those Communication Districts. While similar, none of theActs were identical. Additionally, one of the LSA-R.S. 33:9101 et seq.Communication Districts, Assumption Parish, did win approval of a local bill,House Bill 150 of 1995, which incorporated many of the features in House Bill1969.

Subsequently, during the 1996 Extra-ordinary Session, the Caddo ParishCommunications District #1 was successful in gaining passage of House Bill 224which amended LSA-R.S. 33:9102 and added 33:9131.1 which clarified the CaddoDistrict’s right to fund system enhancements, permitted conversion of thesurcharge to a flat fee, and authorized assessment of cellular and otherwireless telecommunication devices, but only after voter approval. Thereafter,on September 21, 1996, Caddo sought and received voter approval to assesscellular.

In 1997, House Bill 300 was introduced by Representative Bob Barton on behalf ofBossier Parish. East Baton Rouge, Franklin, Grant, Iberville, LaFourche,LaSalle, Natchitoches, Plaquemines, Rapides, Richland, St. Mary, Terrebonne,Vernon and Winn Parishes were added to the bill before it was passed. The billamends LSA-R.S. 33:9102 and adds 33:9131.5 to permit conversion to flat rateassessments and assessment of cellular and other wireless telecommunicationdevices.

Therefore on a piecemeal basis, and with some differences, approximatelyone-third of the existing 9-1-1 systems in the state have managed: 1) to getauthority to utilize a flat fee assessment; 2) to clarify the role of theCommunications District; and 3) to gain authority to assess cellular andwireless telecommunications devices.

Flat Fee Assessment – Funding of 9-1-1 systems is primarily through theimposition of a emergency telephone service fee on each telephone subscriber.The fee is on the subscriber’s phone bill and is collected by the serviceprovider who remits the fee to the Communication District. Originally, thelegislation provided that the fee was based on the applicable tariff rate(s) inthe Communication District. H.B. 1969 of 1995 and it progeny bills provided forconversion to a flat rate rather than a percentage of tariff rate. The reasonfor the conversion was that the deregulation of telecommunications and theproliferation of competitor companies were bringing about the abolition oftariffs.

Communications Districts’ use of the funds varies depending on the method ofservice they are employing and how delivery of that service is structured. SomeDistricts utilize the bulk of their resources to employ call takers, others relyon public safety agencies to supply the personnel, and they supply thefacilities and equipment. The larger metropolitan areas are able to provideEnhanced 9-1-1 service augmented with “CAD” [computer aided dispatch].Some of the smaller Districts remain unable to provide even basic 9-1-1 service.

Funding of System Enhancements – The telecommunications field is one of the mostrapidly changing areas in today’s marketplace. Innovations, changing markets,emerging technologies, increased competition are just some of the factors thatmake public safety communications a fluid sphere of operation.

When the 9-1-1 concept first emerged, adoption of a single 3-digit phone numberfor citizens to request all forms of emergency assistance was the single mosteffective step to minimize the time between the creation of an emergencysituation and the delivery of an appropriate public safety response.

Soon after basic 9-1-1 service began to emerge, the ability to enhance thatservice was developed. Enhanced 9-1-1 or E 9-1-1 has the ability to deliver acaller’s phone number and physical address to the public safety communicationofficer who takes the call. These enhancements are valuable tools in situationswhere the caller is unable to communicate due to illness, age, or some otherreason. Presently these enhancements, known in the industry as “ANI”[automatic number identification] and “ALI” [automatic locationidentification] are available only when the call originates from a landline, butthe Federal Communications Commission has issued FCC Order 94-102 which mandatesthat cellular and other wireless services also deliver this information to the”PSAP” [public safety answering point].

In addition to the ALI and ANI tools provided by enhanced 9-1-1, technology isalso able to provide the PSAP with a “CAD” [computer aided dispatch]system. A CAD is a computer program which utilizes the ALI data to assist thedispatcher of emergency service to know what public safety agency and/or publicsafety unit [patrol car/ fire truck] is best able to provide response to theparticular emergency based on the geographical location of the emergency.

Beyond CAD is “AVL” [automatic vehicle locators] which combine the CADsystem with “GPS” [geographical position satellite] systems toactually pinpoint public safety vehicles at geographical co-ordinates which canbe displayed via maps on computer monitors that display the location of theemergency and the proximity of response vehicles.

Other related areas of emerging technologies relating to public safetycommunications include 800 MHz radio systems and mobile data terminals whichenable better communications between the dispatcher and the public safetyofficers who are responding to the requests for emergency services.”MDT” [Mobile Data Terminals] creates the capability to senddirectional maps or even layouts of buildings which are on fire. 800 MHz trunkedradio systems permit intercommunication between fire, police, sheriff, andmedical emergency personnel in multi-agency response emergencies.

These system enhancements, which did not exist when the original 9-1-1legislation was adopted, are all important tools that reduce the total responsetime between the requests for and the receipt of emergency service. Thepost-1995 legislation has recognized the value of the innovations and providedthat attaining system enhancements is an appropriate activity for aCommunications District. The level of enhancement that is feasible andappropriate will vary widely from Communications District to CommunicationsDistrict.

Assessment of Cellular and Wireless Telecommunication Devices – Thetechnological changes have not been restricted to public safety communications.The cellular/wireless industry did not exist when 9-1-1 legislation was beingadopted. As the industry evolved, even though cellular/wireless users were ableto dial 9-1-1 and receive an emergency response, they were not being assessedthe monthly emergency telephone service fee because they were not physical”lines.”

At first the response to the emergence of cellular/wireless varied around thestate and the nation. Some Communications Districts like Jefferson and St.Tammany enacted resolutions and/or ordinances and began to assess cellular, butmost did not. However, when cellular/wireless users call volume to 9-1-1increased dramatically as cellular/wireless phones proliferated, it became clearthat cellular/wireless users were deriving a substantial benefit without payingtheir fair share. In fact the marketing pitch that pushed cellular/wireless usebeyond the business world and into the general public was the added safetyfactor that a cellular/wireless phone provided in case of emergency.

Since cellular/wireless calls do not transmit ALI data to the PSAP, the calltakers found themselves spending substantially longer on cellular/wirelessgenerated calls trying to establish the location of the emergency. Those longerinquiries, coupled with the skyrocketing volume of cellular/wireless calls,posed a substantial drain on Communication Districts budgets.

The majority of the cellular/wireless service providers recognized the value of9-1-1 service to their customers and the legitimacy of the CommunicationsDistricts’ desire to assess cellular/wireless service. In addition to Jeffersonand St. Tammany, cellular/wireless providers also voluntarily reachedcontractual agreements with Caddo and Bossier Parish Communications Districts toassess their customers.

H.B. 1969 of 1995 and its progeny sought to make statutory provision to clarifyand confirm the Communications Districts’ authority to assess cellular/wireless.Presently, approximately one-third the Districts have authority to assesscellular/wireless.

Now, as noted above, there is a push to require cellular/wireless serviceproviders to develop systems that will send ALI and ANI data to the PSAP so thatthe call taker will know the location of the caller and the phone number of thecellular/wireless device being used. The Federal Communications Commission hasmandated in FCC 94-102 that this capacity be developed and implemented over adefined period of time. The order also provides that before thecellular/wireless service provider is required to provide these features in agiven area, a mechanism for cost recovery must be in place. The FCC has left thetasks of determining how cost recovery will be accomplished to the states.

At present representatives of the Communications Districts and thecellular/wireless industry have been meeting to work on a consensus approach todevelopment and adoption of a mechanism for cost recovery. A necessary part ofthat solution will incorporate authorization for the remaining parishes toassess cellular/wireless.

Multi-parish Communications Districts or Contracted Services – HB 1969 of 1995had sought to permit multi-parish Communication Districts and to allow oneparish to contract with another for its 9-1-1 service. It was apparent that someof the sparsely populated rural parishes could not afford basic 9-1-1 servicesbecause funding for 9-1-1 is primarily attained through a service fee added toresidential and business phone lines. There are still twelve parishes which donot have functioning 9-1-1 systems. Eight of those parishes have obtained voterapproval and are in the implementation stage. Typically, once voters approve theproposition, collection of the fees commences with the initial funds being usedto create uniform addressing in the parish and acquisition of the communicationequipment that is necessary to route and receive 9-1-1 calls. The fewertelephone customers, the longer it takes to generate the necessary revenue toget the system operational, and the less elaborate the ultimate system will be.Technological advancements make it feasible for multi-parish systems to functionwith a single 9-1-1 system. Likewise, technology makes it possible forneighboring systems to handle another parishes 9-1-1 calls on a contract basis.

When H.B. 1969 failed to pass the individual Communication Districtsconcentrated on their own situations and none of the subsequently enactedlegislation has addressed multi-parish communication districts or theauthorization of one communication district to contract to provide 9-1-1 serviceto another parish. If the State of Louisiana is ever to have statewide 9-1-1service some method of establishing regional or combined will have to beenacted.

V. Coordination of 9-1-1 Efforts – Despite the wide range of approaches to thedelivery of 9-1-1 services that exists around the State, there has always been aspirit of cooperation and comraderie between the Directors and personnel of theCommunications Districts throughout Louisiana. All any new CommunicationsDistrict needs to do is ask, and it will be given every conceivable assistancefrom the established Communications Districts. Issues like street addressing,equipment selection, communication system layout, are common to every PSAP[public safety answering point] in the country. While each CommunicationsDistrict must tailor its approach to the circumstances it faces, much can belearned from the other Communication Districts.

National organizations like the National Emergency Number Association[“NENA”] and Association of Public Safety Communications Officers[“APCO”] and their state chapters are indispensible sources ofinformation and instruction. Each of these organizations provide trainingcourses, industry-related periodicals, product shows and related information tothe 9-1-1 community. They operate as international clearinghouses for the latestin technology, legal issues and legislative developments that affect 9-1-1.

Communication and coordination links between the various 9-1-1 CommunicationDistricts in Louisiana have developed naturally and effectively through theyears. Each District has borrowed ideas from others, and at the same timefashioned a system that uniquely fit their particular situation. Recognition andacceptance that a single statewide mandated structure was neither feasible nordesireable are products of that experience.

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