Content ©2018 Irene A. Wrenner                                                       Illustrations © 2009 Julian Hector, used w/ permission                            

Who Got Us Here ... and How

A number of people have recently spent time and money studying how Chittenden County might implement Regional Dispatch:

 

Chittenden County Regional Planning Comm-ission (CCRPC) has supported communities as they studied the benefits and costs of region-alizing via an initial Governance Group and Tech Advisory Committee.

CCRPC provided administrative suppport, including space on their website to host the findings, plus agendas, minutes and other background info.

With the goal of better coordinating emergency services among neighboring communities, the leadership in Burlington, Colchester, Essex, Milton, Shelburne, South Burlington, Williston and Winooski, with the support of the CCRPC, hired Deltawrx to undertake a study in the fall of 2016.

Governance Group

 

In 2016, a group of managers revived decades-old plans to regionalize dispatch services and pooled some funds to hire a consultant to advise them on their options: Deltawrx.

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This Governance Group met regularly until the
leadership formed a Joint Survey Committee (JSC) as a next step in Feb. 2017.  Not every GG member became a member of JSC, but many did.

Municipal Voters

 

Depending on where you live, your Manager / Mayor and Selectboard / City Council may (or may not) be delighted about this proposal.  If they choose to warn a March Australian ballot vote on this Regional Dispatch Agreement...

The ultimate decision will be up to taxpayers, who will foot the bill and may experience a change in emergency response times, depending on which other communities' voters decide to regionalize -- or not.

This California-based consulting firm was hired to study the feasibility of regional dispatch in Chittenden County.
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Per Charlie Baker's 9/29/16 memo:

This study was "conducted in response to municipal budget pressures, technology changes, potential changes in state dispatching model and/or charges, and recognition that certain services – such as emergency dispatching – might be provided better to the public utilizing a more regionalized approach."

This study provided a road map to creating a regional dispatch center. (Two prior studies, in 1995 and 2000 determined that regional dispatch was viable and worthwhile.)

Deltawrx estimated fewer dispatchers in a central location could satisfy the county's requirements. Their predictions on such slides as the following have been alternately hailed or retracted by  JSC members, depending on the audience:

Joint Survey Committee

 

The Joint Survey Committee was formed to draft a Union Municipal District agreement to create a Regional Dispatch Center.

The JSC spent considerable time analyzing the value of regional dispatch and the most effective governance structure.

 

In the process of reviewing the data and drafting an agreement, the JSC determined that a regional dispatch center, when combined with a regional public safety answering point (911 call center), can reduce response time for many 911 calls – by avoiding a transfer to local dispatch.

Tech Advisory Group

 

Public Safety Chiefs met as the Tech Advisory Group to brainstorm solutions to operational issues.
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They visited regional dispatch centers in other states and generated a long list of services that dispatchers would no longer provide locally, if regionalized.

 

Dispatchers

 

Those who staff the dispatch function are our first First Responders.


Their jobs can be stressful, as people's lives and property are at risk each time they answer a call and decide which responders to tone out for assistance.

Towns are having a harder time finding people to fill Dispatch job openings.  In fact, Regional Dispatch was billed as a way to minimize how many Dispatchers would be needed going forward. (See slides on left.)

One frustration vocalized by Dispatchers about this process is that they haven't been invited to GG, TAG, or JSC meetings to provide input all along.  (See "Burlington adds regional dispatch... to March ballot", Burlington Free Press, 12/18/17.) Management, as it has made plans, has informed dispatchers of them.