Excerpts from the forestparkreview.com:

Forest Park officials took action at Monday’s village council meeting that they hope will enhance the operations of the West Suburban Consolidated Dispatch Center (WESCOM) when the village joins next summer.

By a 5-0 vote, the council approved entering into a memorandum of understanding with Oak Park, River Forest, Elmwood Park, and WESCOM to apply for a $419,000 federal grant to upgrade fire dispatch equipment for all the agencies.

Forest Park officials voted in September to join WESCOM, acceding to a state of Illinois requirement that smaller municipalities combine municipal dispatch operations. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the consolidated dispatch law on June 29, 2015, after it was passed by the Illinois General Assembly earlier that year. The law requires municipalities throughout the state with populations of less than 25,000 to consolidate their dispatch operations by mid-2017 to reach that population number. With some communities — primarily downstate, without 911 centers — the law is seen as a first step toward universal 911 service statewide.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 2016-17 Regional Assistance to Firefighters grant would allow WESCOM to purchase state-of-the-art fire dispatch equipment. Forest Park has been working with the other agencies on the grant application since before the village officially joined in anticipation of eventually becoming a member.

According to the memo of understanding, Oak Park will be the lead agency, agreeing to administer the grant. Oak Park’s responsibilities will include asset accountability and reporting requirements.

Under terms of the application process, each agency will provide a cash match of 15 percent of the total cost of equipment to be purchased with grant funds. Of the total $493,572.02, all but $74,035.80 would be funded by the grant, the rest by the participating agencies.

Officials at the agencies determined the equipment they would need, leading to a different total for each. Forest Park’s total is $58,648, of which the 15 percent share would be $8,797.20 and the grant allocation would be $49,850.80. For the other agencies, Oak Park would pay $33,075.50 and receive $187,427.81; Elmwood Park would pay $18,314.03 and receive $103,779.51; River Forest would pay $7,317.42 and receive $41,465.41; and WESCOM would pay $6,531.65 and receive $37,012.69.

Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

A federal fire assistance grant that Elmwood Park and other neighboring suburbs are seeking would improve response times and lead to a more efficient system, said an official with the West Suburban Consolidated Dispatch Center.

The center, based in River Forest, is the 911 center primarily responsible for dispatching police, fire and emergency calls for the communities of Elmwood Park, Oak Park and River Forest. The communities have joined together on a request for an Assistance to Firefighters grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which, if received, would be used to digitize the current system used by the dispatch center.

Computer-aided dispatch is a technology that has become more widespread in dispatch centers. Used in the west suburban center’s system, it would help to automate some of the dispatch, which would allow for quicker response times. Currently, dispatchers take 911 calls over the phone, and while taking down information, they  sometimes have to switch over to the radio, arranging for dispatch.

Digital technology would allow the dispatcher to send automated dispatch messages to fire stations, while continuing to talk to the caller and taking down information.

The Elmwood Park Village Board voted at its Nov. 21 meeting to back a resolution in support of an application to FEMA, the recommending agency on the fire assistance grants.

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