Fair Haven Fire Chief Jim Cerutti is pressing town officials to end an emergency dispatch arrangement with Monmouth County because of what he says are chronic delays in relaying service calls, according to the Asbury Park Press.
One year after starting the arrangement with the county Sheriff’s office, Cerutti says that lags in patching calls through to borough fire and fire aid average three minutes, and some have taken as long as 11 minutes.
“A lot can happen in three minutes,” Cerutti is quoted as saying.
Police Chief Darryl Breckenridge, however, says that there have been “no problems” with delays in the relay of calls to his department.
From the Press:
County Undersheriff Cynthia Scott said calls are answered, and “within seconds” transferred to the fire desk, which dispatches firefighters or first aiders.
Cerutti cited statistics from county dispatch spreadsheets that show a recurring problem of delays dispatching fire and first aid squad calls that average three minutes from when a call for assistance is made.
“Some were in excess of three minutes in the first six months (of operation),” Cerutti said, adding the worst was an 11-minute lag on one fire call and 14 minutes on a first aid call. “The delay is from when the operator picks up a 911 call to when it gets dispatched.”
The move to hiring the county dispatch center was opposed by many first responders during debates about outsourcing last year.
Cerutti said 25 percent of Fair Haven fire calls have been delayed and 13 percent of first aid squad calls delayed an average of three minutes.
“A lot can happen in three minutes,” he said.
Borough police said they’ve had few problems with the change to county dispatch and those were mostly procedural issues.
“As far as public safety concerns, there have been no problems on our side,” said Police Chief Darryl Breckenridge. “We started out with some minor issues on protocol. Any time we had any kind of issue, the sheriff’s department was here and rectified it.”
Breckenridge said police haven’t experienced dispatch delays.
“Our calls go through the call taker and right to dispatch,” he said.
County officials said they’ve responded to complaints and that calls are dispatched in a timely fashion.