The ETSB, representing the operation of
the Logan County enhanced 9-1-1 system, has been working out the
details, goals and intent to change the operation and management of
the dispatch center. It isn't that there are any actual complaints
about the state-of-the-art system or the dispatchers. Rather it is
the vision of a few that something that is good could work even
As ETSB Executive Director Dan Fulscher
said in his opening statement, "The 9-1-1 system is more than a
piece of equipment. The whole system is only as good as the people
who dispatch and respond to an emergency through it."
"The system has evolved to where we are
now. And everyone on this board agrees that this is the right thing
to do," he added.
The suggested solution is to have
trained civilian telecommunicators with uniform responsibility under
one director operating the 9-1-1 dispatch center.
Six members of the ETSB, 9-1-1 staff,
dispatchers, Sheriff Steve Nichols and Fulscher were on hand to
explain the proposed changeover. The board members represented the
diversity of those most affected by the change, as well as city and
county government representatives. Present were the Rev. Glenn
Shelton, Lincoln City Council liaison; Mark Mann, 9-1-1 board member
and dispatcher; Mike Patridge 9-1-1 board chairman; Dick Logan,
Logan County Board liaison; Dave Deters, 9-1-1 secretary and
Middletown firefighter; and Sheriff Steve Nichols, who also serves
on the ETSB with Lincoln Police Chief Rich Montcalm. Chief Montcalm
had other obligations for the evening, but it was expressed that he
is totally in support of the board's proposal.
According to Dick Logan, putting
civilians in the control room was the main topic of board discussion
in 1994. Currently the coverage in the 9-1-1 dispatch room is still
divided between city and county law enforcement personnel. There are
five city officers and four county deputies who man the post. They
sit side by side, each fielding calls in the center. They take over
for one another as needed when one is overwhelmed by call tasks.
Additionally, each has his own set of other duties and each is
controlled by separate leadership, either by the city police chief
or the county sheriff. This is where it is believed that the system
could be better.
The reorganization would keep the most
important attributes in the system in place. Chief Montcalm and
Sheriff Nichols would still have full control of the important
aspects in operating the room, but they would be relieved of the
responsibility of monitoring their employees in that room. A
director would handle day-to-day staffing and operational issues.
[to top of second column in
Officers and deputies would be back out
on the streets for duty where they are needed. The police would
especially benefit from that action at this time, Sheriff Nichols
pointed out. With the recent city budget cutbacks there were cuts
made in the number of officers on the city police department.
The ETSB would set policy. The director
would handle any law enforcement issues that come up by consulting
with the police chief or sheriff and then going to the supervisors.
There will be two supervisors over the dispatchers.
The dispatchers would be retrained with
equal responsibilities, equal salary and benefits. Negotiators from
the police and sheriff's department are the collective bargaining
agents. Though the pay is different between city and county at
present, Patridge said that they would try to keep the pay scale for
the dispatchers at what they have now.
When negotiations for salary and
benefits are worked out, Fulscher said, the board will have a
proposal for the public to review. He said he hopes that will be by
Oct. 31 or before.
It is believed by all on the board that
having uniform duties under one director will streamline efforts,
making the whole system more proficient and effective. In the words
of Deters, "We have a 9-1-1 system that is second to none yesterday,
today and tomorrow. This is one giant step forward for our 9-1-1."
"We want the community to tell us that
this is the right thing to do," Fulscher said.
Emergency services will have a tent
that is manned from 3 to 9 p.m. at the fair. They will have polls
available for you to fill out. They would like to hear responses to
the proposal from EMTs, professionals, police and the public.
You are also encouraged to contact any
board member. Additional members not listed above are Norma Bathe,
9-1-1 vice chairman, Hartsburg; Robert Mayer, 9-1-1 board member,
Mount Pulaski; and James Pinney, 9-1-1 board member, Atlanta.
said their doors are always open, and they would like to hear your
response before moving any further with the proposal. You can always
call 732-3911 to register your opinion of the proposal.