You may have noticed a blue light on top of a short pole at various locations on Fort Bragg. There are 39 radio touch-and-talk stations where you can connect directly with the Department of Emergency Services 911 call center for emergency assistance.

For the past several weeks, the call boxes have been covered for upgrading the radio system to communicate with a new network system currently being installed. The upgrade to the call boxes was completed Sept. 18.

The Fort Bragg network enterprise center and the Program Executive Office-Enterprise Information Systems with the Product Director of Land Mobile Radio are in the final phases of installing a new Motorola Astro P25 LMR system.  The new LMR system is scheduled to be turned over to the government prior to the end of October.  The scope of this new system included installing and networking the system, installing multiple new antennas and replacing all handheld radios, vehicle radios, base station radios, and 911 dispatch consoles to operate on the new system.  This work also included reprogramming the radios inside the call boxes installed across Fort Bragg.

“Call boxes are installed at various locations across post so Soldiers, civilians or visitors can contact the Directorate of Emergency Services in case of an emergency,” said Michael L. Ellison, chief of network and switching division, NEC. “These boxes should be functional during a power outage as long as the affiliated LMR tower site is up and operational.”

The advantage of the call boxes is the location shows up immediately in the call center.

“We are able to type in the precise location,” said Brittney Yeager, a call center dispatcher. “The most time consuming part of any call is getting the location, provided the caller is even able to speak.”

The call boxes were first installed two years ago, but the updating will be cost effective because the new system will share radio frequencies with fire, police and emergency medical services instead of having a dedicated frequency.

“We average 30 calls a month, but only three to six of them turn out to be actual calls for help,” said Scott Bouley, information technology manager for DES 911 call center. “If the box is activated we always dispatch units to the location even if there is no voice response.”

The call boxes are a supplement to phone calls, and may be a better choice depending on the nature of the emergency should you require emergency assistance.