By JOE GORMAN
YOUNGSTOWN - Mahoning County's new 911 system is almost ready to roll.
Maggie McGee, director of the county's system, said the system and all Primary Service Answering Points in the county will switch over sometime in the second week of January.
She said they are waiting until after the first of the year because of fluctuating schedules during the holiday season and to also allow dispatchers to get used to the new equipment without the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.
McGee called the new system ''next generation 911'' because it is entirely Internet based and uses all fiber optic lines. She said the host for the new system will be housed in Kent.
Mahoning is the first county in the state to use such a system, McGee said. The county is changing systems because the current one is 20 years old and outdated.
''It (new system) gives the PSAPs a lot more information faster,'' McGee said. ''It's awesome.''
Besides being used at the county's dispatch center in downtown Youngstown, the other eight PSAPs will also use the new system. Those PSAPs are in Boardman, Canfield, Beaver, Sebring, Austintown, Campbell, Struthers and at the Youngstown Police Department.
A total of about 130 dispatchers across the county recently completed training on using the new system, Magee said.
Mike Bodnar, a police officer with the Youngstown Police Department who is overseeing matters in their 911 Center, said the new technology is way better than the system the city uses now.
''It's really an improvement,'' Bodnar said.
Bodnar said one of the best things about the new system is it's easier to add new equipment as the technology improves.
''We're going to be ready for any new technology that is coming out,'' Bodnar said.