County should follow NIU’s lead

If you were confronted with an emergency situation and needed help immediately, who would you call? Many of us would pick up the telephone and reflexively dial 911.

NIU buildings and residence halls are equipped with an emergency phone system, which connects callers to the University Police Department by punching only three digits. Emergency calling in the rest of DeKalb County is an entirely different story.

The DeKalb County Board’s 911 Steering Committee is considering an emergency calling system that would incorporate NIU’s existing 911 system. If the committee recommends the board approve the system, a referendum this fall will measure voters’ support of a county-wide 911 system.

Many NIU students are unaware of the lack of a 911 system in off-campus and DeKalb telephones. A uniform emergency calling system is vital to the DeKalb community, which includes a major university and its 25,000 students.

A county-wide 911 system would be funded by a surcharge listed on customers’ monthly phone bills. A service that might save a life certainly is worth about a dollar a month.

In a community the size of DeKalb, a universal 911 system is needed. If voters were made aware of the discrepancy between NIU’s 911 system and the rest of the county, most citizens would be willing to vote “yes” to a 911 system.

The final decision to implement a 911 emergency telephone system in DeKalb County, however, only can be made by those whom the system would benefit most—the citizens of DeKalb County.