The Herald Bulletin

July 9, 2013

Editorial: Central dispatch can ease worries

The Herald Bulletin

---- — The most immediate contact that most of us have with police and fire responders is when we call 911.

Residents needing help are usually in a panic and don’t want to be frustrated by reaching someone who can’t help in an emergency.

That’s one reason why a consolidated dispatch center is useful to people seeking help. It’s also helpful in addressing budget issues.

In November, the Indiana Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations reported on the funding for agencies providing 911 service. In part, the commission recommended that there should only be one primary public safety “answering point,” or dispatch facility, per county.

The report acknowledged there is confusion over funding of these consolidated units but it recommended that local governments be allowed to keep funding to establish singular dispatch centers.

The Indiana General Assembly issued a mandate for counties to take on centralized centers. Madison County is following suit.

After 18 months of discussions, Madison County’s police and fire dispatch will be merged as the city of Anderson joins the consolidated emergency operations center. This is good news.

The new center will be staffed with 39 dispatchers, a 911 director, and a coordinator who will handle driver’s license and vehicle registration duties. The center is to be located on West Eighth Street. In the future, construction is expected to begin for a new communication center that meets Federal Emergency Management Agency guidelines.

Certainly, there have been no major disruptions in emergency response times under the current system. But this new center should help streamline responses as they occur with each department, whether a town marshal or a county deputy, communicate with each other.

And it should help ease residents’ concerns when they call 911. It is natural for emotionally charged callers to worry about a responder’s ability to help. Soon, every emergency call in the county come into one location. When every emergency responder in the county is working together, residents can feel better about their safety.