Posts Tagged Northwest Central Dispatch

Schaumburg Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

Six fire-alarm monitoring companies have sued the village of Schaumburg over a recent law directing all of the approximately 1,200 businesses in town to the governmental agency Northwest Central Dispatch and its own private contractor for their alarm monitoring.

The plaintiffs argue that the law approved last August creates a government-backed monopoly for one business, as well as raising the costs for all its customers.

Schaumburg Fire Chief David Schumann said recent examples of unreliability among private monitoring systems exceed his comfort level. As Northwest Central Dispatch must be contacted for any emergency in the village, he came to conclude that the fewer steps involved in a 9-1-1 call, the more streamlined and safe the process is.

Over a 15-month period before last year’s policy change, the Schaumburg Fire Department documented 31 instances of unreliability among private alarm and sprinkler systems. Among the problems were systems that caused a 10- to 12-minute delay in contacting the fire department.

Elk Grove Village-based SMG Security Systems Inc. is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Its owner and president, John Reidy, said Schumann’s arguments can sound logical to a layman but less so to those in the industry. Purely from a financial perspective, the monthly cost to his current customers in Schaumburg will increase from $25 to $80 as a result of the policy change.

Also named as defendants in the suit are Northwest Central Dispatch and its contractor, Tyco Integrated Security.

John Ferraro, executive director of Northwest Central Dispatch, said the other 10 municipalities his agency serves  have had policies similar to Schaumburg’s new one for decades. He never heard any outcry or experienced any legal action until Schaumburg joined them.

Schaumburg’s Assistant Village Attorney Howard Jablecki said the village believes a home-rule municipality has even greater authority to make such decisions than the fire protection districts that have been sued in the past.

One Schaumburg stands alone on the village board in his belief that steep fines against the alarm companies could have handled the issues of unreliability as effectively as the policy change that was enacted. 

thanks Scott

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Des Plaines police moving to Wheeling dispatch

The Daily Herald has an article about Des Plaines Police Department contracting with the Village of Wheeling for dispatching services. This follows the Des Plaines Fire Department moving to RED Center..

Starting next year, anyone who calls 911 for police in Des Plaines will get their call answered by someone in Wheeling — the result of a five-year contract approved by Des Plaines’ city council Monday. The move comes as Des Plaines readies to close its aging dispatch center on the second floor of city hall.

Des Plaines officials estimate they’ll save $4.1 million over the course of the five-year agreement by contracting with the village of Wheeling, which operates a dispatch center at its police department headquarters.

Des Plaines has dispatched its own police and fire calls — and handled dispatching for other local municipalities — for some 20 years. But outdated equipment and computer systems have spurred officials to decommission the city’s emergency communications center.

Police Chief Bill Kushner said major expenditures would be needed to modernize the facility, which has an increasingly failure-prone records management system that doesn’t interface consistently with the computer-aided dispatch system. There are issues with the dispatch system’s software, the radio system itself and the dispatch consoles, he said.

The dispatch center, at one time called the North Suburban Emergency Communications Center, previously handled all police and fire emergency calls for Des Plaines, Park Ridge, Niles and Morton Grove. Niles and Morton Grove left in 2012 after signing contracts for dispatching services with Glenview.

As soon as this August, Des Plaines and Park Ridge will have their fire dispatch at the Regional Emergency Dispatch Center in Northbrook. Park Ridge police calls will be answered at the West Suburban Communications Center in River Forest.

Kushner said anyone who calls 911 in Des Plaines — whether for a police or fire emergency — will first talk to a dispatcher in Wheeling. If the emergency is related to fire, the Wheeling-based dispatcher will stay on the line while the call is transferred to the RED Center in Northbrook.

Des Plaines officials say they talked with other agencies besides Wheeling. Officials from Northwest Central Dispatch in Arlington Heights and the privately held Norcomm in Leyden Township indicated Des Plaines’ call volume would be too high. Rosemont Public Safety officials were not interested. Glenview Public Safety offered attractive first-year pricing, with substantial price increases in later years, Kushner said.

Des Plaines officials estimate the city’s share of operational and capital costs at the Wheeling dispatch center will be $12.1 million over the course of the five-year agreement — $4.1 million less than if police dispatching were to remain in Des Plaines. Those costs include severance payouts to current employees, though Wheeling officials have said they plan to hire 11 dispatchers to handle Des Plaines calls, and the current Des Plaines dispatchers would get preference in hiring.

thanks Dan

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Dispatcher faulted for actions during drowning incident

The Chicago Tribune has an article about a Northwest Central dispatcher that was disciplined subsequent to an investigation into an incident from this past July in Arlington Heights.

A dispatcher who mishandled a 911 call from an elderly man as his car sank in a pond was on vacation weeks earlier when her boss requested that all dispatchers review water rescue protocols, officials said.

Henry Laseke, 89, drowned after driving his Cadillac into the pond next to his Arlington Heights home July 25. A recording of his 911 call showed the Northwest Central Dispatch worker who took the call did not advise him to try to get out of the sinking SUV, an apparent violation of the agency’s protocol.

The dispatcher, Dawn Brezwyn, was given a three-day suspension after an internal inquiry and received additional training, according to agency records and officials.

“Your actions exhibit a breakdown in performance along with not adhering to the (National Academies of Emergency Dispatch’s) Code of Ethics and Conduct,” Brezwyn’s disciplinary notice, dated Aug. 27, reads in part.

The inquiry found that Brezwyn repeatedly entered the wrong codes into the dispatch system — later telling investigators that she did not know the proper code, records show. She fumbled with a computer program and didn’t use resources that would have guided her in the call, according to the notice.

Brezwyn, who could not be reached for comment, also had not completed a review of water rescue protocols that had been requested of all dispatchers in late June.

Northwest Central’s executive director, Cindy Barbera-Brelle, acknowledged that supervisors did not track which dispatchers had completed the requested review, which included a practice call for someone in a sinking vehicle.

“It’s really an opportunity for the dispatcher just to refresh their memory,” she said.

After questions from the Tribune, agency officials confirmed late Tuesday that they have begun tracking the completion of self-training exercises.

Agency documents suggest that Brezwyn’s actions did not slow the response time, as other calls reporting the same emergency came in seconds earlier, summoning the police and fire departments.

Pat Dollard, assistant director of technical services, also noted that it was clear from the calls that a bystander had gone into the pond to try to rescue Laseke, “which makes it very probable that he would have been attentive to that person’s attempts at assistance and direction instead of the call.”

No one else at the dispatch agency was disciplined in the incident, officials said.

It marked the second time this year that disciplinary action was taken against Brezwyn, records show. In January, she received a written reprimand for failing to dispatch Rolling Meadows police to a medical call involving an unconscious man, though paramedics were called to the scene, records show. The man later died.

The agency has about 70 dispatchers who field, on average, more than 1,000 calls daily from 16 suburbs.

“(Brezwyn’s) missteps are not representative of the training that she received and the performance of other dispatchers,” Dollard said.

Arlington Heights officials said the village annually pays Northwest Central about $1 million to handle its calls, and there are no discussions about leaving the system.

“The center functions well 99 percent of the time. It is economically feasible for the municipalities and generally serves the public quite well,” said Village Manager Bill Dixon.

After returning from vacation, Brezwyn logged 76 on-the-job hours before taking the call from Laseke. Though she initially told agency officials during the inquiry that she didn’t recall the self-training request, records show, she also said she had been too busy during those shifts to complete the training exercises.

After Laseke’s death, all Northwest Central dispatchers were required to complete a full review of protocols for less-common but high-risk incidents, including water rescues, and this month they will attend a class on the computer system that helps guide 911 calls.

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Car into pond in Arlington Heights 7-25-13 (more)

The Chicago Tribune has an article about a followup investigation into the handling of an incident last week where an elderly man drowned after driving his car into a local pond.

The emergency dispatcher who took a 911 call from an Arlington Heights man after he drove his car into a pond last week did not advise him to try to get out of the sinking vehicle, apparently in violation of the dispatch agency’s protocols.

The elderly man was rescued after [fire department divers] broke through a window, but he was pronounced dead a short time later. Some safety experts said that getting him out of the car before it became totally submerged would have been his best chance for survival.

Now, the dispatch agency that handled the six 911 calls about the accident — including the minutes-long conversation with the victim, Henry Laseke, 89 — has launched an inquiry to determine if “all standards and protocols were met,” according to a statement by Northwest Central Dispatch System.

In a recording of Laseke’s call, the dispatcher is heard asking him repeatedly for his address. The dispatcher tells him to calm down and that help is on the way.

Two minutes into the call, Laseke pleads one last time: “Hurry up, I’m sinking. The water is coming up …”

At no time did the dispatcher advise Laseke to try to open his car door or window or otherwise attempt to get out of the car.

But such instructions are part of the protocol for sinking vehicles developed by Priority Dispatch Corp., a Utah-based company that provides emergency protocols and training to Northwest Central’s 70 dispatchers.

“When somebody drives into the water and makes a 911 call, (the dispatcher would) tell them: ‘Unfasten your seat belts, open the car door and get out of your vehicle,'” said Michael Thompson, a consultant for Priority Dispatch Corp. “Anything else is counterproductive.”

Cindy Barbera-Brelle, executive director of Northwest Central, confirmed that Priority’s protocols are used by her agency, though she declined to comment on the specifics of the Arlington Heights incident.

Priority is “in the business of defining the protocols, and we follow them as they are written,” she said. “Those are the protocols that we have available to refer to, to follow when we’re processing calls.”

The incident happened about 7 a.m. Thursday, when Laseke apparently lost control of his 2013 Cadillac SUV and ended up in 8-foot-deep retention pond near his home. Neighbors say they saw Laseke talking on a cellphone inside the SUV as it bobbed in the water.

Speaking generally, Thompson said dispatchers typically do seek an address for most emergencies. But he said a sinking car requires a different response.

“Any agency that is not prepared to deal with that is probably doing their customer a disservice,” Thompson said.

Nationally, there are no mandatory standards for emergency dispatch protocols, experts said. But they added that most agencies follow common guidelines concerning emergency medical incidents, such as what steps to take if a person appears to be having a heart attack, experts said.

A sinking vehicle would be defined as a “technical rescue” that requires a special skill set and is not usually included in general guidelines for dispatchers that are provided by the National Fire Protection Association, said Ken Willette, a division manager for the Quincy, Mass.-based organization, which develops standards used by fire departments.

The Arlington Heights police and fire departments are also reviewing the incident.

Fire Chief Glenn Ericksen said he couldn’t speak to whether dispatchers are obligated to instruct callers on how to get to safety. But he said there are two crucial instructions to give someone in a sinking car: Undo the seat belt and open a window.

The National Safety Council said hundreds of people die each year due to vehicle submersion.

In such a situation, the focus should always be on escape — vehicles can sink in seconds, quicker than emergency crews can arrive on the scene, said John Ulczycki, a vice president with the council, who said he would have asked Laseke whether or not he could swim to safety.

A previous post about this incident can be found HERE.

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Northwest Central Dispatch – new radio system

This from Chris Ranck:

this from carma chicago;  NORTHWEST CENTRAL is switching to a new radio system , it will be a new STARCOM 21 system . It will be a new tdma system which is a non-monitorable radio system . They are supposed to switch on MARCH 26 2013 . They will be switching the old digital system first, towns like ELK GROVE ,  ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, BUFFALO GROVE etc……  2) SCHAUMBURG system and finally STREAMWOOD and HOFFMAN ESTATES systems.  Since it’s tdma, scanners won’t be  able to recieve it .

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NW Central dispatchers “no confidence” in management

The Daily Herald published the following:


Northwest Central dispatchers declare “no confidence” in management

The union representing dispatchers for the Northwest Central Dispatch System presented a vote of “no confidence” in the agency’s management at a board of directors meeting Thursday morning in Arlington Heights. The vote taken in the past week stems from members’ frustrations with a new computer-aided dispatch system installed April 24. The system, used for routing emergency calls to fire and police departments, has been plagued with problems affecting response times.

There also have been difficulties with radio equipment, and administrative policies leading to stressful working conditions, said Rick Tracy, an executive board member of the Metropolitan Alliance of Police, the dispatchers’ union.

Of the roughly 70 members represented by the union … Roughly 85 percent  … voted that they have no confidence in management.

“It’s not just over the CAD system,” Tracy said. “It’s policy changes started years ago that led this group to unionize in February 2009.”

Software glitches caused a 14-minute delay in the response to a potential heart attack victim in Palatine earlier this month. Northwest Central Dispatch Executive Director Cindy Barbera-Brelle at the time said that was the first time the agency had delays in responses to emergency calls since the new software went live.

However, union President Jennifer Delacerda said it was not an isolated incident and there have been ongoing problems with the system since April 24 and as recently as Wednesday night. Problems with management have been ongoing for years, she added. Several dispatchers said even the toughest among them are being pushed to the brink.

“When we mess up, we feel like our necks are on the line,” said Dawn Wolf. “At some point, it’s going to come back on us. We’re going to be the scapegoat.”

Dispatcher Tim Stencel said he recently had problems with the radio system resulting in Hoffman Estates and Streamwood police officers not being able to communicate with him or with each other.

The board of directors and management issued an open letter to its members about the problems earlier this week. In it, they state that the software issues are being taken seriously and management is working as diligently as possible to address them.

“We unionized under this management. We took a strike vote under this management, and now we have taken a vote of no confidence,” she said.

Northwest Central provides emergency dispatch services for about 500,000 residents in Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Inverness, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Prospect Heights, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg and Streamwood. … The towns of Des Plaines, Morton Grove, Niles and Park Ridge [considering joining Northwest Central] have agreed to participate in a feasibility study that will cost $15,000 per community.

The entire article can be found HERE;

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New Radio System for Northwest Central Dispatch

An article in the Journal & Topics Online site discusses a new radio system for agencies handled by Northwest Central Dispatch.

Mt. Prospect trustees recently approved an intergovernmental agreement with Northwest Central 911 System for the financing of the purchase of radios in the amount of $837,468.27.

Funding for the radios will come from the Capital Improvement Fund.

… the 12-year system used by police and fire has become outdated and is no longer supported by the vendor, Motorola. The new system will consolidate all member agencies into one system.

The original six member agencies of NWCD were Mt. Prospect, Elk Grove Village, Arlington Hts., Buffalo Grove, Palatine and Prospect Hts police. Since 1998, Schaumburg, Hoffman Estates, Streamwood, Inverness and Rolling Meadows joined NWCD.

The article can be found HERE.

thanks Chris

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Northwest Central Dispatch strike averted

Northwest Central Dispatchers called off a strike that had been set for today as they reached a tentative agreement with management. The Daily Herald has an article HERE, and the TribLocal HERE.

From the Herald:

The Northwest Central Dispatch System and the union representing its dispatchers reached agreement on a five-year contract at about 1 a.m. Thursday, averting a strike that could have started after 5 p.m. that same day.

Dispatch center management and representatives of Metropolitan Alliance of Police Chapter 540 met with a mediator for about 11 hours Wednesday and into Thursday, before announcing they had a tentative agreement.

The parties agreed on raises that amount to 8.25 percent over five years, said Rick Tracy, a member of the MAP executive board. That’s slightly under the 2 percent annually that the union wanted.

From the TribLocal:

“The strike has been canceled,” said Rick Tracy, an executive board member of the Metropolitan Agency of Police, which handled negotiations for the union. “We have reached tentative agreements on all issues except for seven.”

The 67-member dispatchers union agreed to an 8.25 percent raise over five years, which works out to a little less than 2 percent each year, which Tracy said was similar to other public sector employees.

“Realistically, we’re talking several months, but what happens with this contract, what we have done so far is completed,” Tracy said. “That will be presented to our membership for a ratification vote in the next week or so.”

If the contract is ratified by the union and passed by the Northwest Central Dispatch Services board of directors, it will stand without the seven missing elements, which will be added later.

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Northwest Central Dispatchers threaten strike

Dispatchers at Northwest Central Dispatch in Arlington Heights are threatening to strike if negotiators fail to reach an agreement for a contract. From the Chicago Tribune:

The Metropolitan Alliance of Police, which represents the Northwest Central Dispatch System’s 70 dispatchers in collective bargaining, issued a strike notice late Wednesday. Unions are required to give employers five days notice, so the earliest a strike would occur is Oct. 6 – unless an agreement is reached before that.

The Tribune article can be found HERE.

The Daily Herald reports that:

“Northwest Central is taking precautionary measures to insure that 9-11 dispatch services will continue without interruption,” said Cindy Barbera-Brelle, executive director of Northwest Dispatch, in an statement. “We have various sources from which to draw in order to continue providing emergency services to the communities we serve.”

Read more:

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First fire for Buffalo Grove tower

Buffalo Grove firefighter Andy Russell breast cancer awareness

In honor of breast cancer awareness month, Buffalo Grove firefighters join other fire departments around the country by wearing pink. Larry Shapiro

At the height of the morning storm yesterday and within a ½ hour of shift change, four calls for service came into Northwest Central Dispatch for the Buffalo Grove Fire Department within minutes of each other. There were two ambulance calls, a reported transformer fire with extension to a shed, and a working fire in a townhouse. As companies scrambled to each call, the transformer fire was just that and had not extended to the shed, but smoke met firefighters on arrival at a center unit in a four-unit townhouse. The fire was upgraded immediately and companies that were already en-route to the shed fire were rerouted providing quick back-up to first-due units.

Buffalo Grove’s 2010 Ferrara Inferno tower ladder was the first fire suppression unit on the scene and was deployed for the first time at a Buffalo Grove fire.

Buffalo Grove Fire Department 2010 Ferrara Inferno tower ladder townhouse fire

Tower Ladder 25 (235) is deployed at a townhouse fire at 161 Old Oak Court E during the storm on Tuesday morning. Larry Shapiro photo

Buffalo Grove townhouse fire at 161 Old Oak Court E

The storm did not let up during fire fighting operations Tuesday morning as high winds knocked out power to thousands of homes and businesses. Larry Shapiro photo

More images from this fire can be seen HERE.

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