Emergency Dispatch Transition Background
On May 20, 2019, Worthington City Council voted to approve the recommendation for Worthington to join the Northwest Regional Emergency Communications Center for the City’s emergency 911 dispatching services. The Northwest Center is operated by the City of Dublin, and serves Dublin, Upper Arlington, Hilliard, Washington Township and Norwich Township.
The Resolution approved by Council authorizes the City Manager to execute a contract with the Northwest Center to provide emergency 911 call taking and dispatching services. The transition to the Northwest Center is expected to be in place for Fire and EMS dispatching in July 2020 and Police dispatching in September 2020.
Analysis and Recommendation
An extensive analysis was conducted by a team of City staff from emergency and administrative services. The committee determined that joining the Northwest Center would enhance the City’s emergency response by providing a higher level of training and technology, as well as reduced response times for the growing number of people calling 911 from their cell phones.
The move was considered now because of low staffing levels in the Worthington Communications Center. This is a national issue, impacting dispatch centers across the country, as it is difficult to train and retain highly qualified personnel. The City has been challenged with keeping up with the demands of providing a high level of service in this area. Maintaining the service would require extensive investment in personnel and technology. “This recommendation is not a reflection on the current Worthington dispatchers,” said Police Chief Jerry Strait. “It came about because of a variety of circumstances which caused us to take a hard look at the communications center by conducting a deep analysis of how we can provide the best services to our citizens.” In the Northwest Center, the costs are shared by all participating jurisdictions, and greater resources allow for more investment in technology and advanced training.
The in-depth analysis shows that joining the Northwest Center brings significant benefits, which include:
- Reducing the time it takes for emergency help to arrive for people who call 911 from their cell phones.
- Communication technicians will have enhanced medical training and will stay on the line with the caller while a separate technician dispatches emergency help.
- Provides resources for Worthington to stay current with advances in 911 technology and operations.
- Worthington firefighters, medics and police will still respond to your calls for help.
- A greater capacity to manage large-scale emergency events.
- More exposure and training for low frequency, but high risk events, such as large structure fires.
- The Northwest Center is a highly trained, certified, professional center that provides a high level of service and support for callers as well as public safety personnel.