Commissioners approve consolidation of communication centers

File photo
File photo

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Hamilton County Commissioners have approved a resolution in support of the consolidation of the Hamilton County Communications Center and the City of Cincinnati Emergency Communications Center.

The resolution is a little more than one page and it calls for Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory and City Council members to indicate their willingness to explore this opportunity with Hamilton County to improve emergency response to County and City residents.

"Reliable, efficient 911 response is a core service of local government that should not be jeopardized or diminished by local politics or budget pressures," said Commissioner Greg Hartmann.

Hartmann says the Hamilton County Communications Center has consistently provided exemplary service to its callers. All calls are answered within an average of 1.5 seconds and all dispatchers are Emergency Medical Dispatch-certified. The Hamilton County Communications Center already provides innovative and expeditious service to almost all municipalities and townships in Hamilton County, serving 105 Police, Fire and EMS agencies.

"All Hamilton County residents, including those in the City of Cincinnati, deserve to have confidence in the service they receive each time they call 911," said Commissioner Hartmann. "The City and County Communications Center are very similar in operations and technology. To explore the coordination of the governance and management of the County and the City Communication Centers, we need the political leadership at the City to pursue this effort with the County on behalf of all County and City residents."

The leader of the city's 911 communications center, Joel Estes, spoke to city council members Wednesday about the issues.  One topic was the issue of Emergency Medical Dispatch certification.

"We're over 90% of our people trained.  The odds are significant, and very, very good that folks are going to get and EMD-certified call-taker," said Estes.

That's where the county is a little bit different.  All of the people who dispatch the 105 emergency agencies are EMD-certified.  On average, those emergency calls that come in are answered in 1.5 seconds at the county level.  The proposal addresses budgetary concerns, and getting rid of duplicate services.

"We've got the city and the county basically doing the exact same thing.  We currently work together as we provide redundant systems to each other, which is important.  That means when a call's not answered at the county, it rolls over to the city.  Likewise, one that's not answered in time at the city, rolls over to the county," added Hartmann.

Currently, there are 29 vacancies with the city's communication center that can't be filled right now because of a hiring freeze.  But, Estes told council members there are 10 people trained, and ready for hire.

That hiring freeze can't be lifted until a new city budget is passed.

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