LEE COUNTY, Miss. (WTVA) -- Law enforcement knows all too well that in the event of an emergency...timing is everything.
No one knows that more than a 911 dispatcher.
But in Lee County, many who wear the badge say they've had problems communicating when they need it most.
"It's always been we've had some blind spots in Shannon. That, of course, is dangerous. When an officer is out on a call, we key up on the radio and it just makes like a busy signal," Shannon Police Chief Desiree Kershner said. "We can't get through to the dispatcher."
Those concerns are something Lee County E911 officials say they take very seriously, but they say the current system is badly out of date.
"Our system has been here about 20 years. The life expectancy of a communications system is about 10 years," Lee County E911 Assistant Director Donald Thomas said.
Thomas said it's a two-fold problem they have: inadequate tower coverage and limited space for authorities to relay crucial information back and forth.
"Whenever we get a call for an accident, fire, medical, whatever it may be...and it ties up all of our resources, say three agencies respond to it. Only three people can talk," Thomas said.
That means the system could form a bottleneck and other agencies wouldn't be able to get through.
Nettleton and Shannon authorities say they've also had to deal with terrain-related dropouts.
"We can have a shoplifter or a fight in a few of the stores here, and when we're inside, we lose contact with 911," Kershner said.
And though they've managed to get by without major problems, it's only a matter of time before something happens.
"If the equipment is not upgraded, the response time could be affected dramatically because we wouldn't be able to communicate with the agencies we need to get to respond to this," Thomas said.
No timeline has been set for the equipment upgrade.