Regional Dispatch (centralized)
Local Dispatch (decentralized)
Larger towns already provide Emergency Dispatch for others -- because economies of scale occur when needs are pooled
and when resources, such as labor and supplies, are shared.
Essex, for example, dispatches Essex Police and Essex Fire, plus Essex Rescue, Essex Jct. Fire, and Westford Fire.
If several towns agree in 2018 to further combine Dispatch functions under a Union Municipal Agreement (UMD), the plan is to co-locate with the South Burlington PD on Gregory Drive.
Regional Dispatch will cost a bit more up front due to setup and training costs. Long-term savings and efficiencies are predicted.
Expected advantages of Regional Dispatch over local dispatch via a regional center that does not serve as a 911 hub -- this will happen if voters in 3 or more towns say YES to Regional Dispatch in March elections:
More dispatchers in one room -- fewer overall -- focused only on dispatch. Dispatch teams will allow for adequate backup, supervision, training, quality assurance, camara-derie and career advancement. (The practice of carrying phones into the rest room or break room will be history.)
Expected advantages of Regional 911 Hub over local dispatch -- this will happen only if Shelburne voters direct their dispatchers to move to the Regional Center. (Shelburne callers, uniquely, tend to have a 1-stage response when they call 911):
Whether or not regional dispatch passes at the polls,
please know that Faster Emergency Dispatch can happen today, without regionalizing anything or costing more.
“I tell my loved ones not to call 911. I tell them to call dispatch,” said Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo. (12/19/17, Vermont Digger article)
If you don't dial 911 and instead call 878-8331 (the direct number to Essex PD), you can expect faster (1-stage) dispatch of first responders to your location in many cases.
That number is known as the 7-digit Non-Emergency Number. Ironically, this # is also a good bet for fast dispatch when you have an emergency!
Downsides to the Regional Dispatch model -- as well as several challenges being addressed -- include the various tasks that Essex dispatch does well:
Local dispatchers are very familiar with their territory and first response units. While multiple streets share the same names across the county, for example, an Essex dispatcher knows our Main Street is also Route 15, which in turn is aka Pearl St, Upper Main St, Center Rd or Jericho Rd depending on your coordinates.
Local PD relies on dispatchers to do a host of paperwork when phones are silent. (If dispatchers get assigned to RD under a merged scenario, other staff [new hire?] will need to take on such tasks.)
Faster Dispatch of emergency responders. Each call-taker dispatches responders in a 1-stage process.
Local PD Admin Desk is open 24/7, thanks to dispatch for in-person as well as phone service.
Mutual Aid no longer dispatched manually / sequentially. Instead, it would be automated, with a collective view of resource availability, aided by computer selection of the most appropriate resources.
Dedicated oversight during fire / EMS calls. Dispatcher stays on-the-line throughout the incident. The caller may obtain emergency medical advice immediately, and the first responders, once they arrive, get prompt additional assistance as needed.
Local dispatchers have experience with current equip- ment and protocols. They have a comfort level which they'd have to re-create in a different location, with different co-workers and new systems/software, if their efforts were merged into a region-wide function. Dispatchers who live in the town where they work would have longer commutes. They'd also forfeit the protection of their current collective bargaining unit, beginning anew.
"I hope that regional 911 call centers, cost-saving economies of scale aside, become a thing of the past. Had [my wife]'s call gone directly to the Somerville Police, I am convinced that game of telephone wouldn’t have resulted in disaster. A local dispatcher, familiar with the hospital, would have asked Laura whether she was at the top or bottom of that hill."