Dispatch Centers Consolidate Services in 5-Year Deal
Calls from West Carrollton residents to 9-1-1 dispatchers in Centerville will get their first public tests starting at 1 p.m. today.
That’s when phones lines will be switched as the dispatchers based at the Centerville Police Department begin answering and routing calls from West Carrollton residents for police, fire or medical help.
AT&T has tested the 9-1-1 system on its own and Centerville Police Chief Bruce Robertson said his department has tried it out successfully on cell phones.
But “we won’t have that opportunity to do a test on our end until those circuits are actually switched over,” West Carrollton Police Chief Doug Woodard said.
“So we will continue do that (today),” he added. “And if for some reason that it doesn’t switch over, we will have people there to answer those calls.”
Computer technicians will be on hand in Centerville and West Carrollton dispatchers will be available in case of “unforeseen failure,” Robertson said.
If there is a problem with the system “somebody’s going to pick the call up,” he said. “It’s not going to go into dead air. And we don’t have any reason to believe that’s going to happen anyway.”
Meanwhile, 9-1-1 test calls are scheduled today at various locations in the city, said West Carrollton Fire Chief Chris Barnett.
“We’ve done everything (we can) and Centerville has done everything up to this point,” he said. “Until you actually make the switch over, there’s not a 100 percent proof that every phone call that’s going to be made from West Carrollton is going to make it to Centerville.
“But,” he added, “we have confidence from AT&T and all of the 9-1-1 vendors that…they haven’t seen any issues. They haven’t seen any problems.”
Tests and training have been commonplace in recent days and weeks, Woodard said. Officials from both cities have prepared for the consolidation of service. The two city’s councils approved a five-year agreement in January.
Batteries of tests – on mobile data terminals in police cruisers, of tornado sirens and radio frequencies, to name a few – have been performed while dozens of joint meetings have occurred and issues – both expected and unexpected – have been ironed out, officials said.
“The city of Centerville and here in West Carrollton – the police and fire departments and the city administrations have worked very, very well together to try to accomplish this,” Woodard said. “This is the first time for both of us to go through anything like this.”
West Carrollton opted to dissolve its dispatch center, citing costs and staffing issues. West Carrollton reviewed several options – including placing a levy on the ballot and a proposal to join the Montgomery County Regional Dispatch Center – before contracting with Centerville.
The deal calls for West Carrollton to pay Centerville $244,495 the first year, with about a 2 percent increase each year until the last year, when it will cost $281,592, according to the contract.
“I think Centerville is anxious to get us on board and we’re anxious to make the move,” Barnett said. “I truly believe it was the right decision for the city to do this and the citizens shouldn’t see any change in terms of how our service is to the community. I think it will be a very seamless process.”