ANDERSON — An 18-month effort to merge Madison County's police and fire dispatch will be complete early next year when the City of Anderson joins a consolidated emergency operations center.
That was the word Tuesday from Madison County Sheriff's Department Maj. Brian Bell, who submitted a preliminary budget proposal to the Board of County County Commissioners for consideration.
Consolidation of county 911 dispatch centers is occurring throughout Indiana under a mandate from the Indiana General Assembly. The goal is to perform emergency dispatch operations from one central location in small counties, and no more than two in larger counties like Madison.
Even though Madison could dispatch police and fire from two centers, local officials say one dispatch office makes the most sense from a standpoint of cost savings.
It also makes sense from a technology standpoint because all county police and fire vehicles are interconnected through a central computer system.
Last year, separate communication centers in Elwood and Alexandria merged with the county's system. "Now, we're taking that a step further," Bell said.
The new center will be staffed with 39 dispatchers (three of whom will have supervisory tasks), a 911 director, and a coordinator who will handle driver's license and vehicle registration duties, Bell said.
Initially, the center will be located at a facility on West 8th Street, but officials anticipate building a a new communication center that meets Federal Emergency Management Agency guidelines at some point in the future.
"I've worked on this from the get-go," said Commission President John Richwine, R-North District on Tuesday. "Quite honestly, the ability to get every entity in government working on this has been quite rewarding."
County Manager Dan Dykes, who served as an Anderson firefighter (including a stint as an assistant chief), for more than 30 years, said it will be nice that all the departments will be able to communicate with each through a central agency.