E911 Dispatch problems are fixable

Published 12:26 am Thursday, September 7, 2017

Problems plaguing the new consolidated city-county emergency dispatch center are completely fixable — with leadership, communication and focus.

City and county elected officials and emergency management leaders are expected to meet today to discuss recent “potholes” in the city-county dispatch center. We urge them to be open, honest and cooperative in their work.

City leaders have complained they don’t believe they’re getting their money’s worth for the deal — and they may be correct.

Email newsletter signup

But what’s certain is that it seems the joint venture was started without some clear and well-communicated goals.

Scrapping the plan outright, as some have suggested, will be a huge step backward.

The top goal of this project was to streamline dispatching services to allow one common, professional location to handle all emergency calls.

The previous system was split between city and county dispatching. Layer in two different ambulance companies, each rotated through each separate system, and it was a recipe for problems.

Dropped calls as emergency requests were sent from one agency to another were a frequent complaint.

Those should be fixed now. If they’re not, those involved must quickly resolve.

Also a point of contention is that, apparently, each entity sought to keep the number of dispatchers (read: employees and voters) whole.

That has seemed illogical from the beginning, given the volume of calls our area receives.

Such a plan should have begun with an assessment of the exact number of “jobs that must be done” by dispatchers — filing reports and other clerical work.

Then an assessment of the time required for those jobs.

Then, and only then, could a reasonable number of staff required be determined.

If that work was not done initially — and it appears it was not — doing that is a critical step to righting this most important piece of our local government.