Posts Tagged RED Center

DesPlaines votes to join RED Center

In a followup to a series of posts about the City of DesPlaines’ discussion about whether or not to join RED Center for fire and EMS dispatch, the Daily Herald has an article about the vote in favor of making the move.

Des Plaines will be switching its emergency dispatch services for the city’s fire department to the Regional Emergency Dispatch (RED) Center, a consortium providing dispatch services for 14 area fire departments. The city council recently voted 7-1 to approve the change in provider. The Park Ridge City Council similarly approved moving its fire dispatch services to the RED Center, as both towns were required to switch services together or not at all.

Des Plaines has been handling its own dispatch services for its police and fire departments since the dissolution earlier this year of the North Suburban Emergency Communication Center, which handled police and fire calls for Des Plaines and Park Ridge, and police calls for Niles and Morton Grove. Des Plaines decided to run the center, which was located on the second floor of city hall, itself for a two-year trial period with Park Ridge as a client.

Fire Chief Alan Wax said during the recent city council meeting that the main reasons to switch to the RED Center for services are an increase in service levels, improved ability for regionalized responses, and cost effectiveness.

Fire calls make up 18 percent of the city’s emergency calls. The switch could mean the elimination of two supervisor positions, and one dispatch position involving five employees (because of multiple shifts) at the Des Plaines 911 dispatch center, and adding two part-time employees, Wax said.

The RED Center is a premier dispatch center specializing in handling fire department calls, Wax said. Its state-of-the-art facility in Northbrook provides call-taking, emergency medical pre-arrival instructions, and fire department dispatching services. The agency, formed in 1977 with five area fire departments, today serves as the regional dispatch center for the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System Division 3, of which Des Plaines is a member.

The center received and responded to more than 37,000 fire department calls in 2012. Des Plaines would be the largest member, with a call volume of 14.6 percent based on 2012 call statistics. The center has 18 employees. The two towns produced 11,000 fire calls last year.

The Des Plaines dispatch center would continue to receive all 911 calls, and route calls that pertain to fire or rescue emergencies to the RED Center.

“Our dispatch, from the time we answer the call until we dispatch units, is within 60 seconds 90 percent of the time,” Clausen said.

Des Plaines dispatchers can listen in to the call so they can dispatch police squad cars where needed, Wax said.

thanks Dan

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Des Plaines considers joining RED Center (more)

Here is a followup to our post about a proposal before the Des Plaines City Council to move fire department dispatching to RED Center. From the JOURNALOnline:

“Our opinion is we’re just as good as them (RED).”

Des Plaines dispatchers are counting on the community to help them save the city’s 911 center.

Rebecca Brink, a longtime dispatcher at the center and union leader, has been circulating fliers touting the negative impacts switching the service could have on residents. She’s hoping that information will spur residents to join her at the Tuesday, Sept. 3 council meeting to persuade aldermen not to go ahead with a plan to join the Regional Emergency Dispatch (RED) Center in Northbrook.

The city is considering the switch to RED in order to save $133,272 annually. RED serves only fire dispatching, so police dispatching would continue at the Des Plaines Emergency Communications Center (DPECC), located on the second floor of city hall. The police department is reviewing options such as joining another dispatch center or retaining DPECC.

Park Ridge partners with Des Plaines in using the DPECC and would have to move with Des Plaines to RED together to make the plan feasible. The Park Ridge City Council approved the move earlier this week.

Morton Grove and Niles [police] pulled out of the DPECC earlier this year.

If Des Plaines moves to RED, dispatchers remaining at the DPECC would receive the initial call and then transfer fire incidents to RED. Brink said would cause delays as long as 45 seconds from the time a call goes through to when a fire apparatus is actually dispatched to a scene because both facilities need to confirm the callers information and location. She based that estimate on numbers from reviewing random calls.

However, Fire Chief Alan Wax said most towns involved with RED transfer to the Northbrook-based service as soon as the call is identified as a fire incident without taking specific information. The extra three to five seconds to transfer are more than made up for by RED’s efficiency.

[Brink] said the city should instead invest in $1.3 million of necessary equipment upgrades to modernize the service at the DPECC. Brink contended city officials failed to demand that the DPECC’s previous director, Sherrill Ornberg, prepare for those upgrades.

Wax did not dispute that previous officials should have saved, but said it was a decision made by DPECC’s administration and board.

Brink also argued that keeping police and fire dispatch together makes coordinating a response between agencies as easy as shouting across the room.

Wax, however, explained that while coordinating with police dispatchers under RED would require a phone call, the few seconds added is again offset by RED’s efficiency and level of service. Further, the agency is familiar with handling major situations and Wax called them the premier fire dispatch in the state. “We want to provide the best services to the citizens and the fire department,” Wax said, “and we have the opportunity to do that at less of a cost.”

Staff at the DPECC has dwindled to just more than 25 people, including 17 dispatchers, since the turmoil began. Both the director and deputy director have left in recent months as its future became more muddied. “We’re really doing our best to not have that impact the service citizens are getting,” Brink said.

The city council initially considered the switch to RED during their meeting last week, however delayed the vote until Sept. 3 to give more time for Brink and others to gather information. Brink hopes to show the council she and her co-workers are capable of matching RED’s service. “We’ve worked together as a team with Park Ridge since 1992,” she said. “Our opinion is we’re just as good as them (RED).”

thanks Dan

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Municipalities investigate consolidation for fire & EMS

The Chicago Tribune has an article about a study to investigate a consolidation of fire and EMS services of the Highwood, Highland Park, Lake Forest, and Lake Bluff fire departments.

Lake Forest, Highland Park, Lake Bluff and Highwood are expected to form a task force in early 2013 to study ways to save money through collaboration — including the consolidation of fire protection and emergency medical services for their 60,000 residents.

Going with the national trend of consolidation could save the four communities between $1 million and $1.8 million annually, according to a study by the International City/County Management Association.

Lake Forest dispatches its own fire/EMS and police, and on contract dispatches Lake Bluff’s 100-year old volunteer fire department, as well as providing ambulance service to Lake Bluff.

Highwood contracts with Lake Forest for police dispatch and goes through Regional Emergency Dispatch (RED) in Northbrook for fire/EMS. Highland Park, with nearly 2,000 fire/EMS calls annually, dispatches all of its public safety calls.

Another option would be to contract with an existing universal dispatch center, such as Northbrook’s Regional Emergency Dispatch, and a third option would be housing dispatch for fire, EMS and police under one roof, Irvin said.

Leonard Matarese, director of research and project development at the ICMA Center for Public Safety Management, analyzed the four jurisdictions’ fire and EMS needs.

“The longtime premise nationally has been to have same level staffing, 24/7, for fire and EMS, but the realization over the last five years (globally) is that workloads and service demands have peaks and valleys,” he said. “Analyzing services workloads and calls convinced fire prevention officials in England over a decade ago to allocate staff based on time of day and days of the week. Typically, fires and EMS calls occur during the day and slow down by 9 or 10 at night.”

The ICMA study suggests there are three alternatives related to firefighting and emergency medical services:

“Functional consolidation,” which involves cooperation across jurisdictions for a common service, but the four departments remain separate entities.

“Operational consolidation” maintains a legal separation, but the four departments join operations and administration to function as a single agency.

“Full consolidation” merges four fire departments into a single entity, in which jurisdictional boundaries “become invisible” and all service demands become single functions of the department.

The ICMA projects the functional and operational alternatives could save members between $950,000 and $1.5 million annually; with full consolidation savings between $1.4 million and $1.95 million.

“It’s typically political, financial, labor contracts and retirement systems that are major issues,” said Matarese. “But these four cities are already at a certain level of sharing, cooperation and functional consolidation. Also, they do some joint purchasing and standardizing of equipment.”

The entire article can be viewed HERE.

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Wheeling almost ready to open 3rd station

In October of last year, the Wheeling Fire Department moved into their new headquarters Station 24 at 499 S. Milwaukee Avenue, vacating what once was the public safety building and village hall on Dundee Road. When the village opened a new village hall earlier in the year, the police department began the first phase of renovating the entire building to accommodate an enlarged and updated police headquarters. The second phase was to incorporate moving into what was the fire department headquarters, living space, and apparatus bays. As part of the master plan, Wheeling was to build a third fire station somewhere on the northwest side of town to accommodate moving the headquarters station further east. Caught by the economic downturn, Wheeling had to scrap plans for the third station and seek out an alternative arrangement that would continue to let them offer the level of coverage that residents and businesses had come to expect.

The compromise was to incorporate a sub-station within the new police headquarters occupying one of the former apparatus bays and altering the living space for a minimal staff of firefighters. The assignment of an engine company in the Dundee Road facility is expected to occur at 0700 on the 1st of February, as the construction is nearing a point of completion. Station 42, as it will be known within RED Center, will house an ALS engine company. The headquarters Station 24 houses the battalion chief, an ambulance, and a truck company which is able to staff an additional ambulance or the squad as the situation requires. A backup engine and second ambulance are also at Station 24.

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RED Center update

Beginning the 1st of May, the Northfield Fire & Rescue Department will be joining RED Center. Northfield is currently dispatched jointly with their Police Department by in-town dispatchers on the North Shore Fire  Net frequency of 151.010. They will move to 159.660 (RED Center) leaving Glencoe as the sole regular user of the North Shore Fire Net frequency.

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