Blackman finds safety in numbers

Published 12:58 pm Wednesday, April 16, 2003

By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features Writer
LeAnne Blackman is someone you may not know, but you could very well benefit from what she does. She is the administrator for Escambia County Emergency Communications District, Inc., better known as E-911. Her job is to make sure that the system works within the county. This is done by establishing an accurate addressing system and educating the public on how to use E-911 to its full potential.
A system or reporting emergencies was first established in 1937 in Great Britain and first used in the United States in 1959. In 1976 Basic 911 was first used in Brewton followed by Atmore in 1978 and Flomaton in 1990. In 1990, voters elected to authorize the collection of a five percent surcharge on their monthly telephone bills to fund an enhanced 911 system which would not only take the call but also show from where the call was made. The addressing and road naming phase began in 1993 and the first call came into the Brewton Police Department in March of 1995.
It is amazing how fast the system works. The whole process begins with the caller. When the call is made, a code is associated with the telephone number of the caller and identified where the call will be answered. Through the next four seconds the call is connected with a database in Nashville, Tenn. and then to the service that is needed such as police, fire or ambulance. By the time the dispatcher answers the call and picks up the phone, the information is displayed on the screen.
The effectiveness of the system depends on the public and their help in getting each and every household identified. That is where the "Safety in Numbers" program comes in. April has been designated as Safety in Numbers Month in order to get the public to post their address in a visible location. First responders (firemen, policemen, EMS, sheriff's department, rescue squad) often waste precious time trying to locate the correct address. The extra time involved in locating the correct address could mean the difference between life and death.
By using this system the way it was intended, E-911 can be life saving.
Blackman was born in Brewton and raised in several different places as her dad was transferred with his job with AAA Cooper Truck Lines. She is one of two children and when her grandfather died, she and her mother moved back to East Brewton to live with her grandmother. She attended W.S. Neal High School where she graduated in 1987. She then attended Jefferson Davis College and married a local man, Steve Blackman, in 1988. She got a job with Lorch's Jewelry for a while after college and then worked with John Boohaker CPA. She worked until her first child, Caitlyn, was born. After the birth of her daughter, she worked at Sheltex for a couple of years and then had a son, Camryn. She stayed at home with the children for a couple of years and then went to work with the Escambia Baptist Association in Flomaton.
It was while she was there that she received a call from the administrator of the E-911 system, Brad Smith. He asked her to come to work as his assistant in 1998.
She attended college at night and went to work at T.R. Miller High School as a bookkeeper. She continued to work at the school until last year when she was called back to fill in at the 911 office. The position of administrator came open and she applied for the job. She was hired because of her prior experience.
When she is not working at the office, Blackman is very busy with her children. She and her family live at Damascus where her husband was raised.

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