The TribLocal has an article about a presentation to the Des Plaines city council about joining RED Center for fire department dispatch services.

The Des Plaines City Council put the brakes on a proposal from the fire chief Monday to join a regional emergency dispatch center, with some aldermen expressing concerns that the move could lead to dangerous delays in response times.

“I’m not confident with what’s going on here,” said Ald. Dick Sayad, 4th, who urged the council to postpone voting on the proposal until early September to allow more time to investigate the matter.

“There are 14 towns going into the regional center, and we’re losing response time, which is of the essence in saving lives,” Sayad said.

Fire Chief Alan Wax said by joining the Regional Emergency Dispatch (RED) Center in Northbrook, the fire department would improve service and reduce costs. The regional center currently provides call-taking, emergency medical pre-arrival instructions and fire department dispatching services to 14 communities, including Niles, Prospect Heights and Wheeling, he said.

“This center has been in operation since 1977, and there have not been any issues with call transfers,” said Wax, adding that transferring an incoming 911 call to the center takes less than three to five seconds.

The fire department previously received emergency and non-emergency dispatching services from the North Suburban Emergency Communication Center (NSECC) on the second floor of city hall before its dissolution earlier this year as ordered by the Illinois Commerce Commission. Since then, dispatching services have been handled by the Des Plaines Emergency Communication Center (DPECC), which is selling its services to the Park Ridge police and fire departments under a two-year intergovernmental agreement.

Park Ridge also is considering joining the regional center, with a vote scheduled for September, said Wax, adding that both fire departments must either remain together in DPECC or move to the RED center.

While joining the regional center would cost the city roughly $243,000 in start-up costs, Wax said the expense would be quickly offset by an estimated annual savings of $133,000.

Still, for the city’s current dispatchers — five of whom would lose their jobs if the city joins the regional center — Wax’s proposal prompted public safety concerns. In particular, the possibility was raised that some 911 callers who are under duress might be confused by the transfer and either hang up the phone or waste valuable time by having to explain to a second dispatcher where they are calling from.

Urging the City Council to delay voting on the proposal, Rebecca Brink, a DPECC dispatcher, said instead of the Fire Department joining the regional center, the city should consider investing in improving the police and fire department’s current 911 dispatching infrastructure.

“We are concerned that you’re not hearing our side of the story,” said Brink, one of the city’s 17 dispatchers.

The council is expected to further discuss and vote on the proposal at the next meeting, Sept. 3.