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More Northeast Ohio communities set to dial in to regionalized dispatcher debate

Ohio is pushing the speed dial in its efforts to regionalize emergency dispatch centers
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Posted at 6:08 PM, Aug 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-05 17:41:58-04

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — On the heels of North Olmsted approving the hand-over of its 911 dispatch duties to a regionalized response center, News 5 learned a handful of other communities may soon be dialing into a similar debate.

Bay Village, Fairview Park, Rocky River and Westlake could have those residents' emergency calls routed through the Chagrin Valley Dispatch Center more than a dozen miles away.

If you make a 911 call in many parts of Cuyahoga County, chances are the first person who picks up isn't sitting within your city limits.

"It's new for us, but it's not new for the country," said Lisa Davet, Deputy Director with Chagrin Valley Dispatch

Ohio is pushing the speed dial in its efforts to regionalize emergency dispatch centers.

"Dispatchers are the first, first responders," said Davet.

Dispatchers not being in the community where they're deploying police, fire, and paramedics is a top concern from residents, and it’s one Davet said she understands.

"It's a tough thing to have to hear because you're afraid, you don't know, it's the what if, it's the unknown," said Davet.

When North Olmsted starts routing its calls through Chagrin Valley within the next two years, a support system will be built into the transition.

"Every one of our agencies that have come over here, Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights, University Heights, Richmond Heights, they have all brought their dispatchers," said Denise Soke, Manager with Chagrin Valley Dispatch.

Their relationships with first responders and knowledge of the community will be coming with them.

"We rely on the other dispatchers from that agency that's coming over," said Soke.

The existing team there will also take time to immerse themselves in the new area they're covering.

Davet said a priority will be "maps and geography, getting them that. Getting them out for ride-alongs with police and fire and try to learn their nuances of everything," said Davet.

Davet, who oversees a staff of 28 dispatchers, said there are always growing pains when a new city is added to their roster.

"There's a lot of technology we have here that a lot of agencies don't, so they have to learn that new technology. They'll need to learn, start to learn the other cities we dispatch for," said Davet.

Among the tools is a phone app that residents can download called "What Three Words," which can quickly pinpoint a location if a caller is lost.

"Literally gives them three random words and we can plug it into Rapid SOS and I believe it is 10-foot-by-10-foot. It'll give us the coordinates of exactly where they're at," said Soke.

Despite the increase in calls, learning curve and training, Soke is confident residents won't notice any changes.

"Although we are in a different location we're still — there's no delay," said Soke.

Davet echoed Soke’s sentiments and shared her message for residents in North Olmsted.

"Give us a chance to help make the community safe," said Davet.