911 DISPATCH STILL AN ISSUE IN FAIR HAVEN

hot-topic rightBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It’s been close to two years since Fair Haven jobbed out its emergency dispatching services to the Monmouth County Sheriff’s 911 Communication Center, and so far, not so good. Still.

“We’re no more satisfied than we were last year,” said former fire chief Jim Cerruti.

Councilman Rowland Wilhelm said Monday that it comes down to clarity of the calls and delays in the calls being relayed to fire and first aiders.

Wilhelm, along with police and fire representatives, is scheduled to meet with county officials today (Thursday) “to try and allay these issues or straighten them out the best we can.”

Fire Chief Wade Davis told redbankgreen, “I’ve got a lot of questions we need answered.”

Namely, what, if anything the county intends to do about aging radio equipment that, in some cases, inhibits emergency responders from hearing the location of calls and their nature.

“They’ve got to find a solution to that,” Cerruti said. “How are you supposed to respond to a call when you don’t know where it is?”

Davis said he’s also interested to know how much, if any, of the recently approved $32 million in county dispatch upgrades will go toward supporting improvements in Fair Haven.

Davis, who said he’s hopeful today’s meeting will hasten a resolution of the borough’s issues, said he wouldn’t have a whole lot of confidence in the county “if they’re just going to keep putting a Band-aid on it.”

The move to outsourcing 9-1-1 calls to the county, made in September 2009, wasn’t favored among the volunteers who make up the borough’s volunteer first aid and fire departments, but was estimated to save the town around $100,000 a year.

Cerruti said he’s concerned that, as more towns move toward sharing services with the county in an effort to trim already tight budgets, the county is getting overwhelmed.

Cerruti leaned on borough officials last year to end the agreement, saying the delays from Freehold to Fair Haven were too long.

Police Chief Darryl Breckenridge said his department doesn’t have the same problems fire and EMS do. The department keeps a log of any problems in its headquarters on Fisk Street.

“We don’t have anything listed on there as far as delays,” he said.

Cerruti said despite there being a lag in calls being relayed, there haven’t been any instances where it’s negatively affected an emergency situation or caused harm to a caller.

“Knock wood,” he said. “Not yet.”

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