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Dispatch switch flips Wednesday night

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By Robin Bass

While most residents are sleeping tonight, Spencer County’s 911 emergency dispatching phone lines will be quietly transferred to state police dispatchers in Frankfort. The midnight move of services comes after more than a year of debates and planning.

Few will notice any changes in the coming days, said Capt. Mike Crawford – except for the small group of folks that sometimes use local dispatchers for instant news reports.

“If you are used to seeing a police car going through town, picking up the phone and asking ‘What’s going on?’ – that’s not going to happen,” said Crawford. The Kentucky State Police Post 12 commander said Frankfort dispatchers will be as polite as possible, but will not release information to the general public in that manner.

Residents are, however, encouraged to call with crime tips. Crawford said that KSP dispatchers will be available 24-hours a day to answer Spencer County’s non-emergency line at 477-5533. The number will continue to be a local call and residents will not incur any long distant phone charges.

Remember, said Crawford, 911 is for emergencies only. The definition of an emergency would be any incident that poses an immediate or potential threat to life or property.

As emergency medical dispatchers, KSP’s 911 staff will be able to provide basic instructions for callers in the midst of crisis. Crawford said that Post 12 dispatchers have guided people through performing first aid, CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and – on one occasion, helped a 911 caller deliver a baby.

“We’re going to tell you what to do unless you are too distraught or you refuse to administer care,” said Crawford. “Our goal is for you to keep them breathing and alive until the professionals get there.”

During a recent visit to Post 12, Spencer County EMT Chris Limpp was glad to hear that 911 dispatchers would now be providing emergency medical assistance. “This is going to be a lot better for the people that call in,” he said.

When it comes to getting help to those in need, Crawford said his philosophy for dispatchers is to find the closest unit to the scene rather than worrying about jurisdictions. Sometimes that has meant calling off-duty EMS or police officers to assist temporarily until tied-up units can respond.

“We don’t care who gets the call. We just want to get help there as soon as possible,” said Crawford.

Personnel employed by local police, fire and emergency medical departments will notice an immediate difference after today, said Crawford. With their increased level of expertise and sophisticated mapping equipment, he said Spencer County emergency services will be provided greater efficiency and professionalism.

“Our emergency people are 100 percent behind this,” said Fire Chief Nathan Nation, who also acted at chairman of Spencer County’s 911 committee. “Not only is this a great value to us, it’s going to be a great value to the citizens.”

Sheriff Steve Coulter said Monday that while the service to be provided by KSP will be good, he was not prepared to say it would be better. “They (current dispatch service) did the best they could with the equipment they had,” said Coulter. “I hate to see us lose local jobs.”

Spencer County Dispatch Coordinator Marlene Cranmer said she will have to lay off five full- and part-time employees. Fiscal court has been contracting emergency dispatching services with Cranmer since 2006. In May 2009, magistrates formed a committee to begin looking at the feasibility of managing the service as a branch of county government. The cost of updating communication equipment was one of the factors that led the 911 committee to recommend outsourcing the service. The county estimates it will save $40,000 by contracting emergency dispatch services through KSP.

“I’m all for saving money,” said Cranmer. “If they can save that much money that’s what it’s all about.”

Cranmer recently was awarded a $9,600 annual contract with the City of Taylorsville to answer water customer calls after-hours. Cranmer said that she does not plan to hire any employees to assist with taking the calls.

 

Calling for help

The Spencer County 911 Committee and Kentucky State Police have provided some examples of when to dial 911 and when not to do so. While not complete, the list may be used as a general guide. For situations that are considered non-emergency please call our administrative line at 477-5533.

WHEN TO CALL 911

Any immediate or potential threat to life or property

Any vehicle accident

Any medical emergency

Any fire emergency

Any suspicious persons, vehicles or activity

Any type of fight or disturbance (except non-emergency complaints, such as dog barking or loud music)

Child locked in a vehicle

Animal bites

Any other actual or perceived emergency 

robbery

a burglary prowler outside your home

crimes in progress or those that have just occurred

suspicious persons or vehicles

burglary

rape

arson

assault

shoplifting

alarm

disturbance

shooting

cutting

prowler

physical fight in progress

any public safety situation that seems urgent and has the potential of escalating by not calling 911

Medical emergency

These emergencies are situations where waiting to see a family doctor could threaten someone’s life.

Anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) ee   

Bloody diarrhea ee   

Chest pain or heart attack ee   

Comaee   

Confusion ee   

Dizziness ee   

Drug overdose ee   

Heat stroke ee   

Rectal bleeding ee   

Shortness of breath ee   

Slurred speech ee   

Stroke ee   

Sudden blindnessee   

Uncontrolled bleeding ee   

Vomiting blood ee   

Sudden Weakness ee

For medical emergencies, the dispatcher can provide medically trained personnel who can tell you what to do until the ambulance arrives.

WHEN NOT TO CALL 911

Checking on power, phone, or cable outages

Inquiring about road conditions

Asking for weather conditions

Paying for citations

Asking for the correct time

Inquiring about fireworks displays, the start of hunting season, or other events

Checking on the status of school closings

Asking for directions

Asking for telephone numbers (dial 4-1-1, unless life or property is threatened)

Seeking advice on legal matters

Reporting barking dogs, cats in trees, or stray animals (non-threatening animal complaints)

Reporting you are locked out of home or vehicle (unless a child is in vehicle)

A joke (this ties up the lines and may cause a true emergency to be delayed)

Water problems

Nuisance animals

An emergency for your pet

To report a traffic jam

Please remember, calling 9-1-1 for a non-emergency may threaten the life of someone else.

The non-emergency number for the Communications Department is 477-5533. This number is manned 24 hours a day.