ST. JOSEPH -- For the town of St. Joseph, the horror of the Tensas State Bank Hostage Standoff back in August that took the lives of three people, gunman and victims alike, is never too far away.
"No one's exempt from an emergency such as what we faced," Tensas Parish Sheriff, Rickey Jones, said.
"We've had a bad year to be such a small place," said Tensas Parish 911 Coordinator, Lorraine Jones.
Now, thanks to a three-mill property tax approved by parish voters in October, a better, faster 911 system is coming, according to parish law enforcement.
"The software updates that we need. Training dispatchers, getting them trained to where they need to be for today's standards. Going into the schools, working with the kids, building and grounds. There's some stuff around here that needs some work," Jones said.
Parish 911 coordinators said this improvement is greatly needed.
With an annual budget of $45,000, they lose $30,000 of that for phone lines alone.
They're still paying off their $100,000 debt on their new building they got back in 2009.
Even their paychecks don't come from the several thousand calls a year they answer.
"Dispatchers are all employed by me," Sheriff Jones said. "We absorb the salaries for the dispatchers. The monies that are generated through 911 aren't enough to pay their salaries and keep the doors open."
"It will generate for us, if nothing changes, around $138,000-$140,000 a year," said Jones, speaking on the new tax.
Before, the Tensas Parish 911 system didn't even have mapping, so before they could send out firefighters or police, if they didn't know the area, they'd have to use Google Maps to find an address.
"In the rural areas, we didn't even have an addressing system. We either knew them by name or pretty close proximity where someone lived. Now, you've got actual addresses," Sheriff Jones said.
"Now we can tell them. With mapping, you can tell them, 'This is where you need go,'" said Jones.
The money from that tax kicks in over the next 10 years, starting in 2014 and ending in 2023.
When every moment counts in an emergency, Tensas Parish law enforcement hopes this better system will give them those precious seconds back.