- Published on Wednesday, 27 February 2013 09:43
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County Administrator Norm Rasavi responded to Colonial Beach’s request for consolidating police, fire, and rescue dispatch with Westmoreland County.
Rasavi told Town Manager Val Foulds in a letter dated Feb. 20, “The Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors discussed the terms and conditions regarding the possibility of entering into an agreement with the town on E-911/dispatch consolidation. Sheriff Balderson and Acting Colonial Beach Chief of Police William Seay were present and participated in the discussion regarding this matter. Working in conjunction with Sheriff Balderson and our finance department, we have developed a proposed budget to complete this consolidation.”
Estimates for services would cost the Town of Colonial Beach $242,580.87 per year. Current figures for dispatch expense in Colonial Beach were not available at press time.
Balderson wants to keep on the four full time positions currently staffed by the town, and one part-time position for his operation.
Assuming that all added employees wish to have full family coverage health insurance, Balderson estimates that the salaries will cost the Town $162,060.
The county will also ask Colonial Beach to pay 20% of the cost of E-911, county and state positions at $46,077.89 per year, and E-911 operation, maintenance and dispatch at $34,442.49 per year.
Currently when a 911 call comes from a cell phone in the Town of Colonial Beach the call is routed to the Westmoreland County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO). Landline 911 calls within the Town are routed to the Colonial Beach Police Department (CBPD).
Fire and Rescue for Colonial Beach is dispatched from WCSO, and Colonial Beach police are dispatched from CBPD.
If a call for fire or rescue comes from a landline in Colonial Beach, the caller has to give a brief description of the emergency to a dispatcher at CBPD, then repeat the process to a dispatcher at WCSO.
Likewise, if a call for police services in Colonial Beach comes through a cell phone, the caller will reach the WCSO first, and will be required to give some details to their dispatch before being routed to CBPD dispatch, and the caller must repeat the information.
Westmoreland County Sheriff C. O. Balderson visited the Colonial Beach Town Council on Monday, Jan. 28 during a continued work session to discuss the advantages of consolidating CBPD’s dispatch with WCSO’s.
Balderson touched on two points- public safety and cost. The sheriff said that public safety could be affected by the redundancy of callers having to explain their emergency to multiple agencies.
Council member Tim Curtin cited the recent stabbing in Colonial Beach. He said that a call for help came in from a cell phone reaching WCSO first, and then was rerouted to CBPD.
Colonial Beach Rescue personnel were dispatched from WCSO, and police were dispatched from CBPD.
Balderson explained that no matter which dispatch office the calls comes to first, each office must obtain some information to determine who needs to be dispatched, and in case the call is lost or ended during an emergency.
The redundancy takes valuable time away from responders that could make a difference in their response times, and possibly save lives.
“To some people five or six seconds may not mean a whole lot, but when you have a house on fire, or a critical emergency such as a heart attack, every second counts,” Balderson said.
Balderson told the council that consolidation offers an alternative, and cautioned that the system in Colonial Beach is becoming obsolete, and repair costs go up all the time due to a lack of replacement parts.
Balderson added, “Because the county is currently planning and building a new judicial center, it would be less expensive to have the county and town come together, and plan it now, as opposed to adding it in the future. “