Harborcreek Township Mulls Dismissal of Emergency Dispatch Services
In a time where less and less people are volunteering as EMT’s and firefighters. Departments and the townships that fund them are facing tough choices on how to allocate their money.
In a time where less and less people are volunteering as EMT’s and firefighters. Departments, and the townships that fund them are facing tough choices on how to allocate their money.
In this case, a resolution proposed by Erie County would dissolve “East Erie Emergency Communications”, the primary police, fire and EMT dispatch service for multiple townships on the county’s east side.
The county would take over the dispatch while "East Erie" would pick up EMS technology that would serve to backup dispatchers for dropped calls only.
"You guys are sitting up there, we're sitting here. I respect you more than anybody, you know that, I’ve said it 100 times, but you need to take our recommendation on this." Said James Hawryliw, a Fire Chief at Fairfield Hose Volunteer Fire Department
James was among a small group of Fairfield Hose firefighters who made their voices heard to Harborcreek Township Supervisors this morning. Between them, a mutual respect is put to the test against a staunch disagreement.
"It has to be right, and it has to be to our standards, not yours, ours." said Hawryliw
Enter Harborcreek Township Supervisor Joe Peck.
"There's a difference of opinion, we all agree to disagree." said Peck “They would like to proceed a little more cautiously. I think, as a Supervisor, we proceeded cautiously."
Peck was chosen to represent the Township to vote on the resolution, which would cease dispatch services starting on Jan 1, 2019. The move would save the town $84,000 a year, which could be used toward the EMS program, among other areas.
“And saying yeah, this system works good, okay now let’s go up to Erie County, but to say in one year's time, that's too short." said Hawryliw in response to the board.
But, concern remains that emergency services using the new EMS technology may experience crucial technical failures. Peck says there is still plenty of time before anything gets implemented, and the board will review everything with fire departments beforehand.
"This is step one, just to get the process started. There's nothing to say the Board of Directors of East County can back out of it.” said Peck “Because, even if Erie County's not ready to take on that dispatch, and we will do so without hesitation. We would never jeopardize our membership in the fire department."
Firefighters brought up the issue of potential job loss, but Peck says that if any jobs were to be displaced by the change, those first responders would priority one to be hired by the county. Peck believes it is a matter of time before the County is ready to take on the east side. The supervisors are starting the conversation now because they believe it is the right time.
The township has already incorporated some of the EMS technology.