One year later: KSP dispatch gets good reviews

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By Mallory Bilger

More than a year has passed since the local 911 emergency dispatching service was transferred from a county-operated office above the sheriff’s department to the Kentucky State Police Post in Frankfort.
The official switch happened July 7, 2010. Since then, all 911 calls and non-emergency calls coming to dispatch over the 502-477-5533 line have been received by KSP-employed and specially trained emergency medical dispatchers.
Although some emergency service directors have identified minor problems with the service, the general consensus among local agencies is that the transition was mostly positive.
Local agencies utilizing the dispatch service are Taylorsville-Spencer County Fire Protection District, Mount Eden Fire Protection District, the Taylorsville Police Department, the Spencer County Sheriff’s Department and the Spencer County EMS.
There were some initial concerns about moving dispatch out of county, including the layoff of five full- and part-time Spencer County Dispatch employees.
But the cost-savings and access to better technology fueled the local 911 committee to recommend that KSP take over the service.
According to a KSP news release, the agreement has saved the county $93,536.86. According to the release, the county’s 2009-2010 costs to operate 911 services  was $182,250, whereas the 2010-2011 cost was $79,113.17, plus $9,600 for a water call contract with an outside provider.
Taylorsville-Spencer County Fire Chief Nathan Nation believes the transition has improved the fire department’s response time and ability to respond to a location accurately.
“I tell you, it’s been outstanding,” Nation said, who serves on the 911 committee. “It’s exceeded our projections as far as what we expected through the relationship. (KSP) has more accessibility and tools to work with there than our dispatch did here. They can come in, whether it’s a street view or an overhead view and locate addresses and see houses.”
Nation was referring to KSP dispatch’s access to a computerized mapping system that provides the dispatcher with a visual of the location of the emergency. The KSP system also provides automatic vehicle identification and location, and law enforcement access to LINK/NCIC, a system that tracks fugitives, criminal records and call histories to specific addresses. Emergency personnel also have access to the Computer-Aided Dispatching system, which provides information sharing between emergency personnel for all ongoing calls in the county. CAD also provides central record-keeping for all in-county previous complaints, calls for service, arrests and criminal activity.
But the system has not been without its kinks. Sheriff Buddy Stump said he has been concerned about reducing emergency response times.
“We’re working on those,” Stump said, adding that KSP and Judge-Executive Bill Karrer have been involved in discussions with the sheriff’s department on how to improve those times.
Stump said that shortly after the agreement began, he felt that the county was paying for a service it wasn’t receiving, because KSP troopers were being dispatched to emergency scenes that were within the jurisdiction of the sheriff’s department.
“That has changed,” he said, noting that he believed a greater effort was now being made by KSP to dispatch local personnel on Spencer County’s frequency.
Mount Eden Fire Chief Doug Herndon said the only problem he has encountered with KSP’s service was that the the wrong fire department was sometimes dispatched outside its jurisdiction.
“We’ve had a few issues with some misdirected calls, but, other than that, it’s not bad,” Herndon said. “We had that same issue when dispatch was in the county.”
EMS Director Darrell Stevens said EMS has experienced very few problems and noted several benefits because of the agreement. He said better-trained dispatchers have improved EMS response times.
“A lot of times you couldn’t get enough information,” Stevens said of the previous county-operated dispatching service. “Whereas the state police, they have their lines, they’re all recorded. They have all their dispatchers trained in dispatching, so they get all the information and keep them on the line until we get there.”
Taylorsville Police Chief Toby Lewis said the cost-savings to the community has been beneficial. He added that the police department has not noted any issues since KSP took over the service.
“With the old service, I think they did a great job. But when you can get more dispatchers for less money, I think that’s something you have to look in to,” Lewis said.
The following statistics were provided by the state police in regard to emergency calls dispatched through KSP during the first year of the dispatching agreement:
• The Taylorsville Police Department conducted 1,279 traffic stops and responded to 2,618 calls for service.
• The Spencer County Sheriff’s Department conducted 409 traffic stops and responded to 2,780 calls for service.
• The Taylorsville-Spencer County Fire Department responded to 131 fires as well as responding to 62 fire alarms. Additionally they assisted other agencies with 239 calls. The total amount of calls from July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011, was 432.
• Spencer County Emergency Medical Services responded to 1,015 EMS calls, plus an additional 291 scheduled EMS runs.
• The Kentucky State Police CAD System entered a total of 4,575 calls for services in Spencer County. That is an increase of 31 percent from the previous year’s total.