Posts Tagged Towns plan to consolidate emergency dispatch

Zion Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

Gurnee has signed off on a five-year deal to provide emergency dispatching services to Zion, a move expected to be financially beneficial to both towns.

Dispatching consolidation has been occurring in several suburbs because of a 2015 state law dictating that a 911 operation cannot serve fewer than 25,000 residents. Compliance must occur by July 1.

Zion will pay Gurnee a prorated share of a first-year base fee of $875,000 starting July 1 for dispatching the city’s fire and police calls through April 30, 2018. The contact will run from May 1 through April 30 in each of the final four years and require payments to increase annually by 3.5 percent or the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less.

In addition, Zion must place roughly $160,000 it receives annually from taxpayers for emergency dispatching into a fund controlled by a new joint 911 board with Gurnee.

Zion officials said they expect six or seven of the city’s dispatchers will be hired by Gurnee.

Gurnee representatives presented their offer to the Zion 911 board in April. Officials said the village’s dispatching operation is ready to grow and take on more clients such as Zion, which acknowledged a poor financial situation and an inability to upgrade 911 operations.

Elsewhere in Lake County, Lake Zurich in April added Wauconda’s police and fire emergency calls to a 911 client roster that already had Hawthorn Woods, Island Lake, Kildeer and Tower Lakes on it.

thanks Ron

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State mandated consolidation of 911 dispatch centers

Excerpts from the

In the wake of recent news that 911 dispatchers in the villages of Harwood Heights, Norridge, and Schiller Park will face imminent layoffs as the towns prepare to consolidate their emergency call centers, one community is taking action to stop dispatchers from leaving their jobs. The approximately 35 dispatchers who now work in all three towns combined will be whittled to 18 to 20 dispatchers who will work in the new call center. The consolidated center is expected to open sometime next year, and all employees will have to reapply for their jobs if they wish to stay.

Three dispatchers at Norridge’s 911 call center have quit since the state-mandated consolidation was announced in March, according to Norridge Police Chief Dave Disselhorst. That prompted Norridge officials on July 13 to support a measure to offer retention bonuses to the village’s remaining 11 dispatchers. The potential bonus amount has not yet been determined.

The Harwood Heights Police Department was chosen in June by a consulting firm hired in March to conduct a feasibility study to help the towns decide where a new consolidated emergency dispatch center should go. The state’s amended Emergency Telephone Safety Act, signed into law a year ago, required all consolidation plans to be submitted by this month, and the new facilities will open by July of next year.

The law requires small towns in Cook County to merge their 911 dispatch operations with other nearby towns by reopening one joint 911 communication center to serve more than one town.

None from Harwood Heights’ team of eight dispatchers have quit since the consolidation was announced, according to Police Chief Frank Biagi, who said he was pleased Harwood Heights was recommended as the location for the new center.

“At this point, it was only recommended by our consultant that the Harwood Heights communications room would be the best place for the new dispatch center, so no final decisions have been made yet,” Biagi said. “We are very excited about being chosen as the host location, but this still needs to be discussed and approved by all of the village officials in Harwood Heights, Norridge and Schiller Park.”

Schiller Park Fire Chief Pete Chiodo wasn’t available for comment, and it was unclear whether any of the 10 dispatchers who work for the community had quit since the consolidation was announced.


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State mandated consolidation of 911 dispatch centers

Excerpts from the

Statewide consolidation of 911 emergency systems has been touted by supporters, including Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office, as a good thing, but leaders in Madison County aren’t so sure.

Numerous fire and police chiefs in the county have pushed back against the idea that consolidating individual systems to one statewide, comprehensive system — an effort that will force Madison County to reduce the number of public safety answering points (PSAPs) from 16 to eight — will create a better experience for residents. On the contrary, many local leaders see the effort as a move that will hurt both public safety and their departments’ bottom lines.

Illinois Public Act 099-0006 went into effect Jan. 1, 2016, giving the newly created Office of the Statewide 9-1-1 Administrator the task of developing, implementing, and overseeing a uniform statewide 911 system for all areas of the state outside of municipalities having a population over 500,000. Only Chicago is exempt from the statewide system.

As part of the state takeover, counties with more than 250,000 residents were ordered to put together a consolidation plan that would cut the number of PSAPs in their county by 50 percent. Earlier this year, Catherine Kelly, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rauner’s office, told the Belleville News-Democrat that consolidation was good for the state.

“Consolidation makes government more efficient and better uses taxpayer dollars, and this bill accomplishes that while increasing public safety,” Kelly told BND in February.

County leaders disagree. In 1989, Madison County residents voted to establish a 67-cent surcharge on phone lines that helps fund the county’s 911 system. In recent years, the county has worked to establish its Next Generation 911 system — an Internet Protocol (IP)-based system that allows digital information (e.g., voice, photos, videos, text messages) to flow seamlessly from the public, through the 911 network, and on to emergency personnel —which Madison County 9-1-1 Coordinator Terence McFarland called “state of the art.”

“From a public safety standpoint, we have a very good system right now,” East Alton Mayor Joe Silkwood said. “When people pick up the phone and they call 911, we get calls very efficiently and effectively to them.

The financial aspect of consolidating PSAPs has also created questions among police and fire chiefs in the county. Approximately 225 dispatchers are employed throughout the county’s 16 PSAPs, all of which are located within police department headquarters. Consolidation to a 911 center that dispatches calls for multiple municipalities would possibly include the loss of some jobs.

But Wood River Police Chief Otis Steward said dispatchers’ jobs extend beyond simply directing police officers or firefighters to locations. In Wood River, dispatchers also monitor prisoners in the city’s jail, enter warrants and more.

“(Dispatching) probably accounts for five percent of what they do,” Steward said. “So, we are not going to give up our dispatch to somewhere else, so when a citizen comes into our police department we have no one sitting there. If you’re willing to give up your dispatch to go to a consolidated center, then that’s fine. We are keeping our dispatch.”

Currently, dispatchers are paid by the city or department that employs them. The equipment, including computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems and geographic information system (GIS) mapping, is paid for by the 911 phone surcharge.

If other police departments likewise keep their dispatchers — Bethalto Lt. Craig Welch and East Alton Chief Darren Carlton are among those who have also expressed an unwillingness to part with dispatchers in the event they lose their PSAP in consolidation — the effort would actually result in an increase in personnel costs. On whom that added cost would fall is among the questions local leaders have asked of state personnel, with little clarity.

As part of creating the statewide system, counties had until this past Thursday to submit consolidation plans or apply for a waiver for exemption for a period of time or, in some cases, permanently.

The Madison County Emergency Telephone System Board (ETSB) submitted a waiver asking for an additional year past the July 1, 2017 deadline for consolidation to be completed. The waiver will be reviewed by the Office of the Statewide 9-1-1 Administrator and will be granted or denied within 90 days of the request.

In the meantime, ETSB is planning to commission a study to better understand the feasibility of consolidation options. Per the waiver, the independent study will also examine the collective bargaining agreements between various communities and their employees, dispatch center improvement and impact costs, and more.

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Towns plan to consolidate emergency dispatch

Excerpts from the

The Illinois General Assembly has given small towns all across the state an order to consolidate their emergency police and fire dispatch centers by mid-2017, forcing municipalities to scramble to either join existing dispatch centers or form their own.

And by July 1 the state wants written plans for just how such consolidation is going to be handled — a task that has brought Brookfield, North Riverside and Riverside together to form a joint dispatch center.

Tentatively called WC3, the joint dispatch center for all three villages will be located inside the North Riverside Police Department and will be governed by a board of directors that will hire an executive director to manage operations.

Earlier this month, all three villages signed off on a consulting contract to hire Northbrook-based GovHR USA for $25,000 to assist them in implementing the plan.  Representatives from all three villages, including village managers, police and fire chiefs, and dispatch supervisors have been meeting weekly with GovHR USA consultant Paul Harlow, who formerly served as village manager and public safety director of Glencoe.

Last summer, the General Assembly passed the consolidated dispatch law bill which  mandates that all towns with populations less than 25,000 consolidate services to reach that population. The cost to create the joint dispatch center would be borne equally by all three municipalities.

There are many moving parts to the consolidation process. In addition to physically upgrading the North Riverside dispatch center to include a third position and some new equipment, Brookfield is not presently on the same dispatch radio frequency as Riverside and North Riverside, and Brookfield belongs to a different fire department mutual aid division.

In addition, the records software used by North Riverside and Brookfield is not used by Riverside, and all dispatchers will need to be trained to provide what’s called Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD), which is a higher level of dispatch service that’s being mandated along with the consolidation. While some of the dispatchers currently employed have been trained in EMD, none of the three villages presently provides EMD service because it requires a second dispatcher to be on hand 24 hours a day.

All three towns say the full-time dispatchers they currently employ will be retained, but the future of part-timers is not so clear. Eventually, however, the dispatchers will go from being municipal employees to being employees of WC3, and a new collective bargaining unit will be created for those employees, who are now members of three separate units.

One of the other changes that will come as dispatch services consolidate is that Brookfield and Riverside police will no longer have personnel at their front desks 24 hours a day. During the overnight hours, North Riverside will have dispatch personnel available to handle walk-ins, but some sort of phone/video system will need to be installed at Brookfield and Riverside to allow anyone walking up to the front doors of those departments to reach a dispatcher in North Riverside.

In June, all three municipalities will sign an intergovernmental agreement to set up the WC3 board, which will include officials who have already been meeting informally with the consultant. 

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