Regionalizing emergency services is a hot topic in many Massachusetts counties. Grants are awarded, committees are formed and studies are conducted. Why all the time and effort, if you simply look back at the rest of the country, seems like a worthwhile trend?
In fact, Massachusetts is the only state that has generally not regionalized its dispatch services. It has taken years, investment, and dedication to get the job done.
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Case in point: Oregon State has worked for 16 years regionalizing the dispatch of its state police departments, but it was worth it. There are now two command centers that act as the primary point of contact for all state police needs across the state – instead of 26 taxpayers & # 39; the money is saved, the economy is being weighed down, and the updated technologies are being enjoyed nationwide.
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These are new topics from around the country – taxpayer savings, efficient shipment processes, more reliable high-tech technologies. According to Thomas Dubas, who runs the dispatch center in Lackawanna County, Pa., And was hired to advise on the proposal for regionalization, “The level of expertise, the level of training and the level of service that a regional center can provide is just so much more responsible for communities,” he said. So why didn’t Massachusetts follow that?
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Not that ideas were not presented. In the last three years, Essex, Plymouth and Worcester counties have made proposals for regionalization of ambulance services .
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And with any Massachusetts proposal, there was disagreement. Those opposed to combining services, possible layoffs, lack of attendance at night facilities to greet visitors, and varying degrees of dispatchers’ familiarity with the venues included as the main reasons for the veto.
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It is not that they do not see the financial and procedural benefits of such a project, but those who oppose do not want to rush into something without looking at it from every angle.
The reason for the regionalization of the emergency dispatch service should not be solely in finance. Obviously the human element has a job doing the dispatching staff. A great deal of the work that dispatchers do now is getting through and supervising late-night activities. If cities combined shipping efforts, those high-touch elements would be eliminated.
However, it is difficult to ignore the hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars that could be saved, especially at a time when agencies are expected to work less with more, and budget cuts are forcing each department to watch more carefully than ever before.
And when you get down to it right now, almost every other country already combines emergency management – and successfully. If nothing else, then there are plenty of case studies that will show us a way to regionalize emergency dispatch for our own success.
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