SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — The Allen County Sheriff’s Office initiative to consolidate countywide dispatch services took another step forward this week after Shawnee Township Fire Department asked the county to gauge how its budgets might be affected by such a change.
“It’s all dependent on money and everything else,” Shawnee Fire Chief Todd Truesdale said. “ I think its best for down the road that things go this way, but we have to make sure that it’s fiscally responsible for taxpayers.”
Allen County Commissioner Cory Noonan said Truesdale had reached out to the county earlier this month to get some idea about the costs involved. Under Shawnee’s current system, calls placed via 911 are received by a central dispatcher with the county, where they are then forwarded to localized dispatchers responsible for sending out the applicable emergency vehicles.
Currently, only two municipalities in the county — Shawnee Township and the City of Lima — still dispatch in that manner, Noonan said.
All other municipalities allow the county to both receive emergency calls and then dispatch the appropriate help without needing the extra contact. Under the arrangement, the county holds contracts with each municipality, and they are renegotiated every three years.
Noonan said if the Shawnee Township Fire Department decides to contract with the county in the same way, it could eventually lead to efficiencies of scale and cost savings related to the county’s dispatching operations.
“To me, it does make sense,” Noonan said. “I know that they provide that service, and it really is a good marriage between local governments and sheriff’s office.”
Maj. Todd Mohler met with Allen County Commissioners Tuesday to provide some insights into the county’s side of the budget if county’s dispatchers were responsible for Shawnee Township Fire Department’s emergency calls. To absorb dispatching duties from the area, Mohler estimated the county would need to hire three dispatchers to cover the township’s additional call volume. If Shawnee police were to be included in that deal, Mohler said the county would need five more dispatchers.
Such an increase in staff would allow the county to have additional dispatchers during each of the three shifts required to adequately cover a 24-hour day.
If Shawnee decides to move forward with consolidation, Truesdale said a real benefit could be a reduction in emergency response times, especially when it comes to mutual aid calls. From cardiac arrest to brain trauma, even a small reduction in response time can greatly change the results of an emergency call, he said.
“Time is critical in everything we do,” Truesdale said.
Whether such a change works for everybody’s budgets, however, is an entirely different question.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.