Posts Tagged outsourcing of the 911 emergency dispatch services

Wauconda looks into outsourcing 9-1-1 call center (more)

Excerpts from the

A Lake County municipality is “rethinking” an idea to move forward with controversial plans to close the village’s 911 emergency communications center and to outsource the services to a county group in light of opposition from community members and the problems experienced in other outsourcing such as the Village of Oak Lawn’s decision to privatize the services.

Village of Wauconda Trustees voted last Tuesday to table the move to the county group known as CenCom stating that there were too many questions and that it was too soon to vote. Mayor Frank Bart, who was elected two years ago, has pledged to close the 911 center and outsource the services to CenCom, which dispatches for 11 police and fire departments in Lake County. Bart has claimed that the move would save the village $300,000 a year.

However, opponents have pointed to the Village of Oak Lawn’s decision to outsource the services previously provided by union dispatchers in favor of a private company. “That decision was a disaster and I would be lying if I said we weren’t aware of those problems,” said a high ranking Wauconda village official who asked not to be identified.

Oak Lawn’s Village Manager Larry Deetjen had argued that his village would save money without affecting public safety when he recommended the privatization in Oak Lawn. Since that time, the village has had four directors of the center and been victimized by complaints from firemen, police officers and the public because of mistakes.

Wauconda’s administrator is admitting that the dispatchers would lose their jobs but said they would receive preferential consideration for the new jobs. A similar promise by Deetjen resulted in only a handful of the dispatchers being hired by the private company. Of those hired, half resigned shortly thereafter in light of the way the operations were handled. One dispatcher wrote a letter to the board detailing problems and to Mayor Sandra Bury [who] dismissed the letter as anonymous but also dismissed the complaints after the dispatcher came forward. The village never investigated any of the claims, including the statement that dispatchers were told to destroy complaints that were being made by police officers and firefighters.

Several glaring mistakes have resulted in headlines that have been reportedly noticed even in Wauconda. Hundreds of complaints have been made by public safety officers regarding dispatchers failing to send the right information to the police officers and firemen.


911 records reviewed by the Oak Lawn Leaf, after a legal tug of war that included the Attorney General of Illinois ruling that a 911 video should be released, showed a 6 to 7 minute delay in sending any ambulances to the fatal car accident killing two Roman Catholic Nuns at 95th and Cicero.

To make matters worse, the promised savings in Oak Lawn have not added up as promised with the union representing the dispatchers suing the village and later accepting a cash settlement. When Oak Lawn trustees voted 4-2 to privatize the services, the board ignored the threat of legal action and pleas from several 911 emergency operators and the wife of a police officer.

Oak Lawn Trustee Robert Streit, who along with former Trustee Carol Quinlan were the only votes against the privatization, noted that the village residents depend on professional service from its firemen and police officers. He said the 9-1-1 operators were the people behind the scenes that make sure the ambulance that residents call gets to the right address in a timely manner and assures police officers that a back up squad is on its way during a robbery.

He said that he is happy to hear that the Wauconda trustees are taking a hard look at the issue rather than blindly following the village manager’s suggestion. He said that he wishes Oak Lawn was not seen as an example of a bad decision but perhaps the mistake can be avoided elsewhere.

thanks Dan

More on this HERE

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Bolingbrook announces savings from outsourcing 911 call center

Excerpts from the

Outsourcing 911 service in November has saved Bolingbrook $319,000 while maintaining excellent response times, officials say. Instead of staffing its own call center, the village is now one of 21 entities under the umbrella of the Western Will County Communication Center, or Wescom.

“The consolidation worked for us, financially, on both the police and fire sides,” said Thomas Ross, Bolingbrook public safety director who serves as chief of both departments. “We’ve calculated that it’s about 22 percent less expensive than running our own 911 call center.”

Nineteen full-time positions with the accompanying overhead of pay benefits were eliminated, but Wescom immediately hired many of those workrs. With a population of more than 73,000, Bolingbrook employs 113 police officers and 86 firefighters.

…  the transition to Wescom was seamless, in part because both used similar telecommunications equipment. Bolingbrook has become Wescom’s busiest client for police calls and second-busiest for fire response, behind Lockport.

Officials say 911 response times have remained steady with increased efficiency through economies of scale.


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Barrington Hills considers outsourcing 911 dispatching

Excerpts from the Daily Herald:

Barrington Hills trustees voted not to outsource 911 emergency services to Carpentersville-based QuadCom, a public safety consolidation center serving roughly 50,000 people in northern Illinois.

Although Village President Martin McLaughlin said he supported outsourcing the village’s services to QuadCom, several trustees said more research [was needed.]

Richard Semelsberger, who was sworn in as the Barrington Hills police chief on Monday night, said he is familiar with QuadCom, which has operated in the northwest suburbs for more than 25 years, and that he would support a vote to consolidate.

[A resident said] Wilmette and Winnetka conducted similar studies but decided to maintain independent operations because, like Barrington Hills, those communities have a lower volume of emergency calls.

Jeff Swanson, fire chief for the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District, [said] he would support outsourcing to QuadCom.

McLaughlin also said because officials in Springfield might, in the coming years, begin to consolidate emergency services in communities across Illinois, outsourcing to QuadCom would allow the village to choose which service center to partner with.


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Another municipality to outsource emergency dispatch services

My has an article about a decision to outsource the emergency dispatch for police and fire in Bolingbrook:

Bolingbrook’s police and fire dispatch services will be outsourced this fall.

The Bolingbrook Village Board voted Tuesday to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the Western Will County Communication Center (WESCOM) to take over the services, a move officials say will net the village a savings of $319,000 annually. WESCOM, considered a unit of local government, is a consolidated dispatch service with 19 member agencies across three counties, primarily Will County.

In addition to the savings, WESCOM offers better technology and a larger staff in the event of critical incidents, officials said. The move also follows the State of Illinois’ pro-consolidation stance, according to Bolingbrook Deputy Police Chief Tom Ross.

The agreement calls for the Village of Bolingbrook to pay WESCOM $1.13 million for its first year of membership. That figure is based on a projected number of calls the police and fire departments receive annually. The following years’ fees will be based on call volume as well.

Bolingbrook’s 14 full-time dispatchers and two supervisors will be offered jobs at WESCOM, according to Steve Rauter, executive director of WESCOM.

“We’ve outstretched our hand to take as many of them as Bolingbrook can provide,” Rauter said. “We haven’t heard from all of them yet but several have applied and they seem pretty excited to be coming here.” Any Bolingbrook employees hired on at WESCOM would bring accruals with them, Rauter said, including longevity level for salary purposes, years toward pension and some comp time.

Both entities’ employees are represented by unions. Currently, the 16 Bolingbrook dispatch employees are represented by AFSCME Council 31. WESCOM employees are represented by the Metropolitan Alliance of Police.

thanks Ron

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Oak Lawn Emergency Dispatch Center

The Southtown Star has an article about the 9-1-1 Center in Oak Lawn that was recently privatized:

Oak Lawn trustees Bob Streit, 3rd, and Carol Quinlan, 5th, want an independent study of the performance of emergency dispatchers since their jobs were privatized in January, but Mayor Sandra Bury has rejected the idea. The two trustees said they have heard numerous complaints from residents regarding the work of the dispatchers since Oak Lawn contracted with Norcomm to run its 911 emergency call center.

The issue of how well the dispatchers were performing arose after Norcomm vice president Michael Tillman presented a certificate to the village at the meeting, thanking Oak Lawn for “continued commitment … to achieve excellence and success in the delivery of 911 emergency dispatch services.” Since the two-year contract began Jan. 22, Norcomm and the village “have successfully dispatched more than 100,000 calls for service,” Tillman said.

Streit then tried to question Tillman but was quickly silenced by Bury, who thanked Tillman for coming and adding, “I’m sure he’s able to be called.” That irked Streit, who told Bury he was a “little disappointed at how quickly you whisked out the representative from Norcomm.

“It was obviously well-staged, that he’d present a plaque and then run out the door before he would take questions,” Streit said. “I think public safety is the most important issue we have to address as board members. Since the outsourcing of the 911 center, there have been many questions raised about the quality of service our residents have received.”

Quinlan agreed, saying that in her seven previous years on the board, she had never received complaints about the emergency call center but is hearing them now. That drew a smattering of applause from the audience at the meeting.

Streit said there have been times when personnel failed to arrive for work, when a dispatcher had to work six straight 16-hour days and then was denied a planned vacation. “That telecommunicator quit. Is the board comfortable with that because I’m not,” he said.

Moments later, Desmond outlined a laundry list of complaints that he obtained from village records regarding dispatchers, dating to before Norcomm took over the 911 center. “I was shocked by some of the violations,” Desmond said, listing issues such as delay of ambulances, taking excessive sick days, inattention to duty, neglecting to dispatch police, being rude to callers and playing video games at work, to name a few.

“You have someone whipping the public up, and the (911 center) data does not bear that out. The former dispatchers were human, the current dispatchers are human,” Bury said.

Under Oak Lawn’s contract with Norcomm to provide 911 staffing at the call center, the two-year agreement can be extended three years if both parties agree. The agreement resulted in 20 dispatchers having to reapply for their jobs. Norcomm is to provide 23 full-time dispatchers at the 911 center. Under the agreement, Oak Lawn pays Norcomm $1.99 million for the first year of service. That increases to $2 million, $2.1 million, $2.2 million and $2.3 million from years two through five of the contract.

Oak Lawn’s center also serves the Burbank, Evergreen Park, Bridgeview, Bedford Park and Central Stickney towns or fire protection districts.

thanks Dan

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Oak Lawn blames firefighters … for everything

The Oak Lawn Leaf has an article with a video clip about the Village of Oak Lawn blaming fire firefighters for more service cuts:

The Oak Lawn Leaf has learned exclusively that the Village of Oak Lawn’s administration has notified the Local 150 Public Works bargaining unit that it intends to reduce the workforce by as many as six employees after the village lost another battle with the local firefighters’ collective bargaining unit.

According to sources within the Local 150 workforce, the village administration is not only notifying the public works department members of its intentions, it is placing the blame for the cuts on the firefighters’ refusal to abandon the minimum manning provision in [their] contract that has been upheld multiple times in various courts in the last three years.

As a result of those losses in court, the Village of Oak Lawn is facing the reality of having to pay as much as two million dollars in back wages to the firefighters.

Village Manager Larry Deetjen is reportedly “livid” that the village is facing the prospect of paying the back pay but he is not only avoiding any blame for the decisions that have led to the judgment amount but he’s actually blaming the firefighters.

It is exactly the same strategy used by Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury, who in March, laid all of the perceived budget problems of the village at the feet of the fire department in a videotaped message for the Illinois Municipal League in which she lobbied against legislation that did not even concern Oak Lawn’s minimum manning contract provision.

Bury claimed that the minimum manning provision has been “devastating to our budget” arguing that the village spends two million dollars on fire department overtime because of the minimum manning standard.  The Oak Lawn Firefighters Union has argued in the past that the overtime is related to the village’s decision to reduce the number of firemen and paramedics from over 100 to 72.

While Oak Lawn is subject to the minimum manning language by contract, Bury chose to tape the message urging the defeat of the bill claiming in her message that “minimum manning is forcing cuts in public works, telecommunications, the police department and administrative staff”.

At the time, it was widely understood that Bury was referring to last year’s budget which witnessed the outsourcing of the 911 emergency dispatch services and significant cuts in the police department personnel and public works services.  Last winter, residents complained about the lack of snow plowing and salting of the village’s streets.

Trustee Robert Streit, who has consistently battled for increased public safety measures and for maintaining public works services, reacted quickly to the news that the administration is blaming the firefighters for the threatened cuts in public works. “It is ridiculous that the administration is telling the public works union that their failure to staff the fire department and their failure to manage the resources was caused by the firefighters and not their own mismanagement.”    He called the idea of pitting employees in one department against another a “morale killer.”  Streit said that he asked the mayor and his fellow trustees to negotiate with the fire department union rather than continuing the lawsuits but his request was “ignored.”

thanks Dan

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