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Cornelius News

Town wants the 411 on Medic dispatching

FIRE STATION NO. 2 ON CHARLES TOWNE

April 3. By Dave Vieser. The manner in which fire and EMS calls are being dispatched by Medic has come under intense criticism as the Town Board begins the FY 2021 budget review during virtual meetings.

Particular concern was focused on the average time it takes for dispatchers to send out a call. At 2.8 minutes, it is far higher than the national standard average of 1.2 minutes.

The 2.8 minutes represents the time it takes for the dispatcher to check the address and notify the appropriate department apparatus.

In contrast, the department’s average turnout and travel times to calls for assistance meets or exceeds national standards.

GRANT

Medic dispatches the Cornelius-Lemley Volunteer Fire Dept.  as well as all fire departments in Mecklenburg County except Charlotte, said Town Manager Andrew Grant.

“We need to evaluate their relationship with the county to determine if there are opportunities to improve dispatch time,” he said.

Otherwise, Grant said the town should discuss the issue with other departments and “consider engaging Charlotte FD for dispatch services.”

WASHAM

“This is a no-brainer to me,” said Mayor Woody Washam.

All of the board agreed, stating that resolving the dispatch issue was the highest priority facing the department at the moment, even more so than hiring new full-time firefighters.

Besides dispatching 13 fire departments, Medic handles ambulances and personnel for EMS calls throughout the entire county.

It operates independently but under Mecklenburg County jurisdiction, with their service area spanning 544 square miles.

The revelation of the problems with the department’s dispatch time were included in a report sanctioned by the town, and prepared by the Center for Public Safety Management (CPSM) based in Washington, D.C. It included nearly a dozen other recommendations regarding the fire department which the board is reviewing. No cost estimates for fine-tuning the dispatch system were provided in the report.

Grant said that if the dispatch problem can be resolved, it might also mitigate the need for a third fire station in the southwest part of town.

Land for a new fire station has been set aside by the developers of the Alexander Farm Property on Westmoreland Road, but it is likely that the cost to solve the dispatch issue would be a “drop in the bucket” compared with the cost of building and staffing a third fire station.

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