A new 911 system in Whitfield County is improving response times and providing more safety to first responders. The multi-million dollar upgrade went online on Wednesday.

911 dispatchers were working with technology that was more than 40 years old.

The transition should be seamless for anyone calling with an emergency. Officials said the difference will be noticed the most by first responders.

The room dispatchers moved into is three times the size of where they were working. It includes an upgraded computer aided or CAD system, telephones, and a monitor with all the active calls.

"First of all, the radio system, it works. When you push the button to talk to somebody, somebody else can hear you," Claude Craig, Whitfield County's 911 Director said.

That was one of the major problems for dispatchers and first responders over the last few years.

Craig said they sometimes had trouble dispatching.  Law enforcement officials also couldn't reach the 911 center over their radios at times.

"When they push the button and all you get is static, that really puts a knot in your stomach," Craig said.

Voters gave the thumbs up to a special local option sales tax that funded the more than $12 million project.

It's giving officers like Osvaldo Sicairos peace of mind. He said he couldn't reach dispatchers because of bad signal in the past. 

"Whether it be a use of force encounter or another type of situation where you really need to let others know critical information, it certainly makes it a lot more stressful during those situations," Officer Osvaldo Sicairos of the Dalton Police Department said.

Radios will now include an orange emergency button.

If a first responder presses it, dispatchers can see who is in trouble and get them help. Officer Sicairos calls it a big plus in his book.

"You press that button and everybody's going to know that something is going on," Officer Sicairos said.

The director said the new communications system project had been in the works for 3 years. The transition should be wrapped up by the end of Wednesday.