Regional Emergency Dispatch Study Considered

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Thursday July 21, 2016

With many cities and towns in Chittenden County within such close proximity to one another, the concept of inter-municipal shared services has been floated for some time. At the July 18 city council meeting, Deputy City Manager Tom Hubbard presented a draft resolution from the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC)that would study a multi-town or regional approach to emergency dispatch services, including the possibility of incorporating E-911. The resolution states that such an approach could potentially help contain costs of the present circumstances where there are nine separate dispatch agencies operating in Chittenden County.

The draft resolution has been sent to nine neighboring towns for consideration and would launch a study to analyze a number of key issues related to a regional approach to emergency services.
Fourteen items were listed to be analyzed and include, but are not limited to prior studies of regional dispatch services, leadership and accountability, fiscal and operation controls, staffing, and capital costs. Participation in the study does not commit any municipality to implement any of the resulting ideas,concepts or recommendations. The study will be led by the managers of the participating municipalities with the assistance of the police and fire chiefs as well as the CCRPC.

South Burlington Police Dispatcher Daniel Greaves spoke to the council about his concerns. He recalled that at a prior meeting when referencing the regional study, the conversation centered around how the idea might be implemented. Greaves commented that he believes the first step would be to ask if, in fact, it “should” be done, before studying “how” it would be done. “This list (of items to be studied) doesn’t include what is lost when you move to regional dispatch, such as the local touch and local knowledge of dispatchers. Why would you analyze the listed items and not involve the people doing the job?” Greaves asked.
The council felt his concerns were warranted and agreed that the question regarding the benefits of maintaining local dispatch services should be considered as well.

Each municipality that participates will commit to sharing the cost of the study equally up to a maximum of $5,000. Work on the study would ideally conclude by December 31, 2016.

The resolution was unanimously approved.