Responding to long-standing concerns from Fair Haven’s first responders about emergency dispatch service, Monmouth County officials have put in place short- and long-term measures to fix lag times and clarity in 911 calls, borough Administrator Theresa Casagrande said.
The actions, she said in a memo to the council, “will provide the borough with quality dispatch services now and in the future.”
Along with representatives from Fair Haven’s fire and first aid units, borough and county officials put their heads together on June 16 in an effort to find a solution to what local volunteers have said are unacceptable lag times in the relay of emergency calls from the Monmouth County Sheriff’s 911 Communication System to local police and first-aiders.
Issues about clarity of transmissions have also been aired.
To improve clarity, sometime this week the county will install a low-level transmitter at the borough’s police station, which connects to the county dispatch center, Casagrande said. The fire department is also testing a pilot program for new pagers that can simultaneously monitor both fire radio channels. Also, the borough will install a “Rip and Run” system in the fire and first aid buildings, allowing volunteers to access all call information in a printed format.
In the long term, Casagrande said a recently approved $30 million county plan to upgrade its radio system, which includes new equipment on a tower on the Fort Monmouth property, will serve Fair Haven and surrounding towns, providing “state-of-the-art radio dispatch with crystal-clear sound quality throughout Monmouth County.”
That step is anticipated to be complete within 18 months, Casagrande said.
All the fixes are aimed at cooling concerns from the borough’s volunteer ranks. Nearly two years ago, the borough, to save money, outsourced its dispatching services to the county, meaning each call from a resident or business goes through Freehold before Fair Haven is sent to address it. But first responders objected, and even called for ending the deal, because of the potential risk in losing time on a call.
But after the meeting, Fire Chief Wade Davis said his confidence in the county to fix the issues was restored.
“I have a better feeling now than I did, so we’ll see what happens,” he said. “Hopefully they’ll deliver and we’ll get back to the norm.”