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REGISTER VIEWPOINT: Regional dispatch call goes through

Commentary • Mar 23, 2010 at 6:24 PM

We're glad to see Erie County officials are finally busy at ending the busy signal when it comes to regional dispatch.

The nod has to go, if a bit grudgingly, to Sheriff Terry Lyons for calling together everyone with a stake in it and laying out the first rough framework of the plan. Let's hope this first step, too long in coming, is in fact the first step toward an emergency calling and dispatch system that efficiently puts safety service resources where they're needed with the greatest possible speed, every time.

Lyons mentioned his gratitude to long-serving commissioner Tom Ferrell for purchasing the $100,000 study, using tax payer money, that suggests this plan has merit. We'd be remiss if we don't ask why Ferrell felt compelled to spend this money two years ago and then let it sit in the dust until Lyons decided to finally do something with it -- but that's an opinion for a different day. For now, let's at least be relieved at least one of the two guys who could have and should have boosted this idea two years ago is finally doing so.

Special mention must go to Margaretta Fire Chief Tom Keimer, who put forth the idea of a regional governing board -- also a proposal from two years ago -- to make the decisions when it comes to building and running the system. The board, as described by Keimer, would include someone from each jurisdiction that takes part in the dispatch plan -- ensuring everyone has a voice and making it independent of county politics.

And every participating government should have a voice in this system; ideally, every jurisdiction in the county would participate. This system, like any chain, will be as strong as its weakest link -- in this case, anywhere the regionalized system doesn't cover.

It's an idea that's been far too long in coming -- but the false steps and failures that have stopped it until now should not be held against it, now that it finally seems to be on the way.

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