County moves forward with dispatch consolidation

By DeeAnna Haney | Oct 18, 2013
Paula Mills and Debbie Shook, telecommunicators with the Sheriff's Office, work from their new office space in the 9-1-1 Center.

The county is taking the first steps toward consolidating two separate emergency dispatch entities, an idea that was proposed as a way to improve emergency response times.

Eventually, the goal is to merge the county’s Emergency Operations Center (9-1-1 Center) and the Sheriff’s Office Communication Center into one dispatch service. In early October, sheriff’s office dispatchers began reporting to work in the small office at the 9-1-1 Center, located in the basement floor of the Historic Courthouse.

Currently, the 9-1-1 Center employs six full-time people with two on a shift at any given time. On a normal day now, four dispatchers, two with the 9-1-1 center and two with the sheriff’s office, work out of the same office.

Every 9-1-1 call made in Haywood County goes to the 9-1-1 center. Then, dispatchers push that call out to dispatch at the agency that will respond to the call. In addition to the separate county dispatch center, there are dispatch operations in both Waynesville and Canton.

Chandra Morgan, 9-1-1 coordinator, said she is working to install extra computer systems for use in case of an emergency requiring more dispatchers.

“The biggest reason for consolidation is efficiency and streamlining our emergency response process,” said Chief Deputy Jeff Haynes with the Haywood County Sheriff's Office.

He believes that simply co-locating has made a difference in the efficiency of services in the past few weeks.

“Because they are in the same room it enhances services because they are responding almost simultaneously,” Haynes said.

When the Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Services operated in that same building, dispatch services were one in the same. But during the mid-90s, friction between the former sheriff and the 9-1-1 EOC Center led to the separation of the two departments and dispatch operations.

Eventually, the two services will move to the Sheriff’s Office and work as one entity once again. County officials have begun the discussion phase of the project and have not made official plans about the scope of the construction that will be done at the sheriff’s office to house the larger dispatch service.

Until then, the two dispatch services will work out of the same office at the 9-1-1 Center. They will also have this time to begin cross training and merge policies and procedures.

“Everything is exactly the same they’re just in the same room,” Haynes said, adding that the two entities still have separate phone numbers.

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