Posts Tagged Des Plaines Emergency Communications Center (DPECC)

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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