NEW LEXINGTON, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) — A Thorn Township Fire Chief in the Buckeye Lake area said Thursday he’s concerned about people’s lives and for firefighters as they question how 911 calls are being handled by Perry County.
Chief Jeremy Weekly said there was an incident earlier this month where it took a Perry County dispatcher more than seven minutes to dispatch a call because she didn’t realize the address was in their jurisdiction. A woman called 9-1-1 because her 93-year old grandfather was ill and needed help.
The woman used a street name for the address. But Perry County said they don’t have street names, only numbers for Thorn Township roads so they transferred the call to Licking County, who then transferred it back after checking the address.
Derek Keylor, Perry County 911 supervisor said “no call where there is an error made is acceptable.” Keylor said the dispatcher was new and not experienced. “I agree with you that is troubling. And yes it is very troubling.”
“We do not have a Park Court, Park Street in Perry County. Our roads in that area in Perry County are numbered not named. If you are using technology, computer-aided dispatch you can type Park all you want but you are not going to find the address,” said Keylor.
Officials said Perry County 911 center would get an upgrade if voters pass a levy on this November’s ballot. But some firefighters said it is too little, too late.
The Perry County 911 center handles eleven departments and about 1,200 calls a month according to Keylor. It’s staffed 24/7 with dispatchers who make about $15 an hour and often are not experienced.
Weekly said because of the technology and training issues they want to change providers and have Licking County 911 dispatch their calls.
Thorn Township Trustee Bob Coleman said, “let us go to Licking County so we can protect our residents and get services quicker to them.”
But Coleman said Perry County Commissioners have blocked the way by adding a 15-dollar-per call transfer fee.
“It is no different than somebody who is looking for a different internet provider, TV provider,” said Weekly. “If one TV provider doesn’t offer the Big Ten network we are going to look at another TV provider that has Big Ten Network.”
Keylor said the levy would improve services.
“We are investing in the technology as our limited funds allow,” Keylor said.
“Thankfully none of these calls have been cardiac arrest because the chance to save a life decreases with every minute of delay,” said Weekly.