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Calling All Cars! Would A Regional Emergency Dispatch Benefit East Lyme?

East Lyme, Waterford, and New London are considering the viability of a regional emergency dispatch center that would serve all three municipalities.

At 9:30 a.m. today, the Town of East Lyme, the City of New London and the Town of Waterford will enter into an agreement to research the feasibility of a regional dispatch center for fire, police, and EMS.

The chief executives from the three municipalities will meet at Waterford Police Headquarters, where they will sign the Division of Statewide Emergency Telecommunications Transition Grant Application in hopes of securing $750,000 from the state for implementation, along with $215,000 annually if the project moves forward.

The planning group will be tasked with exploring options regarding IT solutions, governance, legal, and finance structure, labor and management organization, and policies and procedures.

A press release sent out about the meeting yesterday noted, "East Lyme, New London and Waterford are natural partners for regional collaboration, particularly with regards to emergency communications. Coordinating mutual aid and rerouting calls for service are commonplace between the municipalities."

In previous years, however, there have been obstacles to such an agreement. Waterford tried to merge dispatch services in 2012 with East Lyme. The union that represents East Lyme's dispatchers objected to the merger and ultimately the merger failed.

Waterford’s dispatchers are non-union employees. New London and East Lyme both have unionized dispatchers.

"Financial burdens remain a serious concern shared by each of the three communities," the press release from New London noted. "Each municipality is compelled to explore all options to control expenses. The potential for cost savings by regionalization of emergency dispatch communications is significant."

Enhanced public safety services for large-scale events, the release stated, would be an added benefit of regionalization. The planning group is scheduled to present its findings to the municipal chief executives by July 1, 2013.

 
Miles Worthington January 30, 2013 at 12:03 PM
It would only work if it were a true regional dispatch center. Run by a third party. So all parties involved have an equal stake in the center. The current proposal has two other parties invited to someone else's sand box. You would see priorities not at an equal share. The union didn't get on board, because even though Waterford had to hire people to make the previous plan, it wouldn't have been any of the four full time employees of East Lyme.
Barbara J January 30, 2013 at 03:04 PM
A true regional dispatch center in my way of thinking would really be just for communications. Separate buildings could be still be in a local (town area) location for each town with cars & employees still only being directed by the dispatch center ! I would not like to see the "equipment & employees" located at a one regional center. Too much time could be lost with only one location.
Corey Sipe January 30, 2013 at 08:53 PM
I suggest folks research the Valley Shore Emergency Communications in Westbrook which is a true regional dispatch center. Also, these towns should join up with Montville in the brand new public safety building!

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