1. #1
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    Exclamation Gadsden County Florida--MAJOR Problems With The Major's Dispatch

    Some of the volunteer departments here are having problems with the dispatching from the Sheriff's Department.

    For instance. A while back there was a call to 911 that there was an MVA with fire and injuries at the intersection of Concord and Fairbanks Ferry Roads. Dispatch drops tones for a department that is 5 or 6 miles away when there is a department .5 miles away. You can litterally stand at the site of the accident and see the fire station.

    The second department (the one that is .5 miles away), is toned about 10-15 mintues after the other department arrives on scene. Why is that? Since Gadsden County has Enhanced 911, shouldn't the computer tell the Dispatcher where the nearest fire department is? Apparently not. Why doesn't the County know where each departments territory is and know who to page? Who knows. This problem keeps on occuring again, and again. Sometimes the correct department is never paged. Other times, Dispatch hands calls over to the town where the first department is from (one 5-6 miles away). The town pages its volunteers and then decides if they want to page the correct department. Once again, sometimes the correct department isn't paged in this situation.

    What are the citizens, passers-by and bystanders thinking when they can stand at the site of the accident and see the the other fire department isn't responding? Is the other department lazy? Are they too busy to respond? NO!!! They just weren't paged. WHY? WHY? WHY? No one seems to know.

    The said department has contacted as many people as possible in an attempt to rectify the situation. The Major who runs Dispatch has said that he will work on the problem. The problem still persists. The Major is running for Sheriff. If he can't run Dispatch, how can he run the County?

    I apologize if this post if confusing. I'm trying to be vague so that I don't step on anyone's toes (any more than I already have).

    Please let me know if you have a way to fix this problem.
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    Default Sometimes...

    Sometimes it comes down to the same answer-
    Document, document, document.

    This Supervisor might be droppiong the ball
    and soon, he might find himself in the courtroom...

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    I agree with the documentation. As far as what the ANI/ALI says that depends on the local telephone company and how they have the info set to show up. You should look into how well the Dispatchers are trained. You should also attempt to start a Committee that has a representative from the Sheriffs office, any other PD's involved with that dispatch center and all FD's associated with that dispatch center. This committee should meet on a regular basis to discuss opearational issues, polices, etc... Does the dispatch center even have polices in place? It doesn't sound like they do. Also look into hiring a civilian with experience to run the dispatch center. Neither police officers or fire fighters should be in charge of the comm center.

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    Default My 2 cents

    Are the fire departments not paying a fee to the dispatch center to provide them service?

    If so, if they are paying for a service that is not being carried out appropriately, this could be cause for contract discussions. Is this ongoing? More than just this one incident?

    Do the agencies have a mutual aid agreement or not, and does the dispatch center operate on a 'closest rig' model? Up until last year, there was a town near here that did not have a contract to provide service outside its borders, despite it being a fully staffed 24/7 (albeit volunteer), well trained, well equipped department. Even calls to the interchange off the highway that leads into town had to be given to the big city department with a 10-15 minute response time, because it was "their area". With the installation of a new CAD system at dispatch, they moved to a 'closest rig' dispatch model, and responses are going much better.

    As for 911 and ANI/ALI, all the ANI/ALI is doing is telling you the location of the caller, and oftentimes, that may not be correct either. Cell phones 'skip' - it's not unbelievable that someone using a cellphone to dial 911 could hit a tower 5 or 6 miles away, even in another dispatch jurisdiction. It happens here all the time.

    (What's really getting crazy in that regard is Voice Over Internet Protocol phone systems - where you can make calls over the Internet. Here, even though the company insists it's not possible, Internet users are managing to dial 911 on their VoIP systems, and coming up as a business address on the Nth floor of an office tower downtown, where the Internet to phone company crossover is. But that's another topic entirely..)
    --jay.

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    If calling from a Landline phone, E-911 provides the PSAP with the PHONE MUMBER and LOCATION. Hence ANI (Automatic Number Identification and ALI (Automatic Location Identification). Also, this comes from a different source than your regular home caller-id. In fact, the whole call is routed differently. But that is beside the point. If it is a cell phone making the call, well, good luck.

    The point being, the PSAP has to establish in their end of the system which department to tone out for what location. This is not the phone company's job to decide and they don't do it. If the dispatch center does not have something that will tell them which agency should respond where, that is REALLY bad. If they do have one, either they aren't using it or don't know how. Either way, they need shape up soon.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    ditto to the last 2 posters !.............we just had an artice come out in todays paper about cell hone callers to 911..........I will try and find the link .....http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs...SS03/402220329 here it is
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    If the cell carriers invested half the money on E911 that they do on features that have nothing to do with phone calls, it might be different now. But we know where their priorities are... Money. They make lots of money with PTT services, camera phones, video phones, text messaging, AIM on your phone, etc etc. They can only SPEND money on a working E911 infrastructure. No profit.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Document, document, document.
    We have started to write on our reports "Paged 10 minutes after *VFD".


    Are the fire departments not paying a fee to the dispatch center to provide them service?
    No, we don't pay. The County Sheriff's Department runs dispatch. The office is located in the (name of Sheriff removed) Justice Center.

    Do the agencies have a mutual aid agreement or not, and does the dispatch center operate on a 'closest rig' model?
    Yes, the agencies have a mutual aid agreement. The two FDs work together all the time on mutual aid calls. As to closest rig, I don't think so. Fire Department #1 gets paged to every call that Fire Department #2 gets. No matter what the situation. Often Fire Department #1 is paged 10-15 minutes before Fire Department #2 is. And I do mean OFTEN! Why does Fire Department #1 get paged to a grass fire in Fire Department #2's territory? What if Fire Department #2 is 1 mile away from the scene and the call is in their territory? Why is Fire Department #1 being sent? Do you really need 30 volunteers, 4 fire trucks and 2 fire departments responding to a car fire?

    Often there will be a call in Fire Department #2's territory. Fire Department #1 will be paged, and Fire Department #2 will not get paged. The only way to know if you have a call in this situation is to listen to the scanner. And of course you can't respond to a call you hear about on the scanner when you haven't been paged out to it.

    Fire Department #2 is (in my opinion) the best trained and best equipped in the county (excluding the paid department in Quincy). I don't understand why this has been happening for 11+ years.


    As for 911 and ANI/ALI, all the ANI/ALI is doing is telling you the location of the caller, and oftentimes, that may not be correct either. Cell phones 'skip' - it's not unbelievable that someone using a cellphone to dial 911 could hit a tower 5 or 6 miles away, even in another dispatch jurisdiction. It happens here all the time.
    What if the caller tells the Dispatcher their location? "I'm at the intersection of Concord and Fairbanks Ferry Roads." Shouldn't Dispatch have a map the shows the territory of every fire department. Shoulnd't Dispatch see that the call is in Fire Department #2's territory, and that Fire Departments #2 is only .5 miles away? Why did Fire Department #1 get paged then Fire Department #2 get paged 15 minutes later?

    One thing you should know about these 2 departments is that they are both volunteer, and both stations ARE NOT manned. When there is a call, someone has to respond to the station, pick up the rig, then respond.
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    Originally posted by Firefighter1219
    No, we don't pay. The County Sheriff's Department runs dispatch. The office is located in the (name of Sheriff removed) Justice Center.
    Who decides this? Surely there's got to be a governing body somewhere that made the choice to go with sheriffs for dispatching. Do they know about this?

    Fire Department #1 gets paged to every call that Fire Department #2 gets. No matter what the situation.
    Again, who made this decision? Is it in the mutual aid agreement? Or is it just done that way because Dispatch has "always done it that way"?



    What if Fire Department #2 is 1 mile away from the scene and the call is in their territory? Why is Fire Department #1 being sent? Do you really need 30 volunteers, 4 fire trucks and 2 fire departments responding to a car fire?
    In the extreme last resort case, you may want to let your taxpayers/residents ask that of the Sheriff's Office. Have them ask why caregivers and responders aren't being sent to emergencies in a timely fashion, instead being passed up for more distant agencies.


    What if the caller tells the Dispatcher their location? "I'm at the intersection of Concord and Fairbanks Ferry Roads." Shouldn't Dispatch have a map the shows the territory of every fire department.
    There's no excuse if the caller provides an accurate location. On my VFD, there's a frequent problem with this kind of thing. There are only three ambulance services in the area, covering specific regions - and only one of those covers our area. However, there are three towns and many rural areas within that ambulance service's coverage area. It's not unusual for EMS to generate calls using the ambulance station address if there is even a minor problem with the address verification obtained through ANI/ALI or the caller. Clearly, if there is a call in the area, if the ambulance station address is used, the fire first responders may not be sent (because the call is not "in their area").

    The dispatcher's job is to find out the where and the what, and send the optimal response. This is not happening in your area. As others said, document it. I still think checking with your governing body (county government, etc) would be a wise choice too.
    --jay.

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    Who decides this? Surely there's got to be a governing body somewhere that made the choice to go with sheriffs for dispatching. Do they know about this?
    IE the Sheriff. He lets the Major run Dispatch.

    Again, who made this decision? Is it in the mutual aid agreement? Or is it just done that way because Dispatch has "always done it that way"?
    I don't actually know if there is a mutual aid agreement. I was just using the term generically to describe how #1 goes to every call. I don't know if this is because the Major says so, or if it's because #2's territory used to be that of #1. Years ago, Fire Department #1 was threatening not to respond outside of the Town limits, leaving Northeast Gadsden County without fire protection. That's why Fire Department #2 got started.

    Another dumb thing going on in the County is that if there is a call for a structure fire, Dispatch sends a Deputy Sheriff to see if the house is on actually on fire. Who cares if it's a real fire or not? Shouldn't FD be rolling anyway? It's better to get cancelled while en-ruote because of a fake call, than to page FD #1 after the Deputy checks it out, then page FD #2 15 minutes after FD#1. That's sometimes 30 minutes after the initial report of the structure fire. We all know what can happen in that amount of time.

    Sometimes I think Gadsden County is the "Stone Age" County of Florida.

    In the extreme last resort case, you may want to let your taxpayers/residents ask that of the Sheriff's Office. Have them ask why caregivers and responders aren't being sent to emergencies in a timely fashion, instead being passed up for more distant agencies.
    We have thought of this. If the voters catch on, surely the Major won't get elected Sheriff. If the Major feels pressured, perhaps he will rectify the situation.

    I still think checking with your governing body (county government, etc) would be a wise choice too.
    The Sheriff is the governing body. He lets the Major run Dispatch. We have contacted the Major, but the problem still persists. Well there is the Board of County Commissioners too. We have thought of going to them with the problem.
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    Originally posted by Firefighter1219
    The Sheriff is the governing body. He lets the Major run Dispatch. We have contacted the Major, but the problem still persists. Well there is the Board of County Commissioners too. We have thought of going to them with the problem.
    I'm unfamiliar with the way things are run in the USA. Here, the town council makes decisions for the town, and the municipal district (same idea as a county) has its own council that deals with the municipal district. With all due respect, what you're describing sounds like the sheriff's office just up and decided to handle fire dispatch, and there is no one who oversees this (above the major - i.e. a council, group of aldermen, or whatever). I really think that board of county commissioners needs to hear about this. If this happened here, the appropriate council or governing board would rapidly turn around and have a contract drawn up with another dispatch center, or develop one of their own.

    Good luck with all this, and keep us posted!
    --jay.

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    Thanks for all of your help everyone. I am going to print this and let my chief read all of the posts. Hopefully we can use this info to help us confront the appropriate people with this problem. Hopefully we can get the problem solved.
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    One more question. Could the Sheriff/Major/Dispatcher be hald legally liable if someone was to die because of this? The last thing Gadsden County needs is a huge lawsuit. If there is a lawsuit, I'm afraid it could virtually destroy Gadsden County Fire Service.
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    First I speak only for my self not my department or
    town or my Chief. 2nd we are on a national forum.
    third a deputy is dispatched to EVERY fire in the county
    for several reasons, 1 better communications, 2 file a
    report, 3 secure the scene (read relevant news items) 4
    locate the CORRECT address and lead us in if nessasary.
    And while you are documenting, please show us the actual
    dispatch times from the dispatch center.Responce times would
    also help show the International Audience what is happening.
    as for your opinion of the best Fire Dept in our (STONE AGE)
    county you have your opinion I have mine.

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    Similar situation here except it's because of a turf war. A totally useless thing for the public, but a great ego builder for the victor that claims as their turf areas that are miles (and I mean miles)closer to another department.
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    third a deputy is dispatched to EVERY fire in the county
    Patrick, I am glad that a Deputy is sent to the fires. They help us in some of the situations; in some of the situations they do not. But do you think when there is an alarm for a structure fire that a Deputy should be sent to see if it is real? What good is a Deputy with no firefighting gear and no airpack gonna do if he rolls up to a working fire with trapped victims? The point I am trying to make is that when there is a report of a structure fire, both departments should be rolling at the same time, along with the Deputy, before the Deputy checks it out.

    as for your opinion of the best Fire Dept in our (STONE AGE)
    First, I only say stone age becuase of the way dispatch is run. I have also heard about another department having problems with Dispatch too. I can't confirm this, it's just a rumor as of now. Second, I say 'best equipped' because of the new stuff acquired through the FEMA grant. Third, I say 'best trained' because most everyone on the department has at least FF I (160 hours), some have more. I can't say that about any of the other volunteer departments in the county. I do not mean to diss Gadsden County, or any of the the other departments. I love this place. I just wish that we could get things rolling in the right direction.

    I can't provide response times at this moment. You know what I am speaking of though. I am glad we have help from your department Patrick, I just wish Dispatch would tone us at the same time so that we might actually be able to save a house, or help a victim.

    Lastly I speak for myself, not my department.
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    1219:
    You make it sound as if the Sheriff's Department runs the 911 system there in your county without oversight.
    Unless your system is completely different from our's, here's how our's works:
    Every resident in the county pays a surcharge for the County Emergency Telephone System (E911). The money goes into an account and accumulates until upgrades are made.
    We have the Emergency Telephone System Board, comprised of people from public safety, telephone companies and even a communications expert who oversees the business of the E911 system. The E911 system has a 911 Coordinator. He oversees the day-to-day operation of the emergency dispatching system. We have a 911 supervisor at the county dispatch center, so any problems that come up can be addressed immediately. We visit the site. We take them food on holidays. We know them by name. We have problems that are resolved. After a run, if there was a question about dispatching, we can call their telephone and discuss it right then and there.
    So, I guess, if your Sheriff's Department is doing whatever they want for the taxpayers' money, then I would expect that the taxpayers have something to say about it.
    If your system is like ours, then I would talk to the supervisor, the coordinator and if nothing else, the ETS Board.
    As far as who gets dispatched, the information is in the computer and there is a pull down map. When all else fails, maps are used. Each department designates how they want to be dispatched. You can approve automatic mutual aid. Boundaries will always be a problem. But the dispatchers don't screw up on purpose. They realize just like us that lives could be at risk. Showing them a little respect will go a long ways to resolving problems. At least, the ones who care.
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    As far as I know, SO runs all of dispatch for the county. I don't think we have any of the things that you have in place. The Dispatchers know we are here, know where our territory is, but often don't page us, or page us too late. I have the utmost respect for Dispatchers. However, their actions are totally unnacceptable.

    But the dispatchers don't screw up on purpose.
    Are you sure? I'm not sure either way.

    They realize just like us that lives could be at risk.
    If so, then why don't they page us?
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    Their not doing it on purpose because they'll be held criminally liable for any loss of life or property.

    What do the dispatchers say when you ask them why they do things the way they do them?

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    They realize just like us that lives could be at risk.

    If so, then why don't they page us?
    Question. How many times have there been an actual life or death situation that getting your company toned out would have made the difference? How much higher a percentage of risk is there that you getting toned out may lead to accidents? Is there a history of driving related problems that may have led to a decision by SO to do this? I don't know, I'm just looking at some other possibilities.

    I am not in favor of having a call and FD not getting toned out while PD investigates. It has happened near me and it has led to some building losses. A few conversations with the dispatching authority, a few articles in the newspaper, problem solved.

    Best of luck.
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    What do the dispatchers say when you ask them why they do things the way they do them?
    I don't know if the dispatchers have been approached. I don't think it would be a good idea to directly approach the dispatchers. There have been times where the dispatchers have gotten serious attitudes with us over the radio.

    For instance, there was a call to a vehicle fire on Schwall Road. Schwall Road is in our territory. We were sitting in our meeting room when we heard tones drop for the other department over the scanner. I confirmed the location of the fire, then sat in Rescue 1 for approximately 3 minutes while waiting for SO to page us. I called SO on the radio and asked them to page us to the fire, being it was in our territory. Less than 5 seconds later, we were paged.

    I told SO we were en-route. Along the way we got a second page that the fire was in a vehicle that wrecked. I called SO to ask if there were any injuries, they couldn't confirm. Told them I was on scene. A few minutes later, I came back with an update. I told SO that we had a victim that had fled the scene before arrival, that there was a second victim missing, and that we needed a Deputy on scene. About this time, the dispatcher started to get very ****y with me. Around ten minutes later, I called SO again to make sure that a Deputy was still headed our way. Every time I contacted SO with an update, all I got was an attitude. After we wrapped up on scene, I told SO we were in service. This time I got no response. That lead my Chief to give us a new radio protocol. Now all we are supposed to tell them is that we are en-route, nothing else.

    There have been many times where I have not gotten an answer from SO when calling over the radio, whether it was telling them I am on scene, doing a radio check, or going back in service.

    There was another call for a structure fire in Peavy Court one night (again, our territory). I arrived on scene to find the other department had about 10 men and 2 trucks on scene, lines deployed, fire almost completely out. It took me 3 minutes to get on scene after the page. I know that many people and trucks couldn't get on scene that quickly at that time of night (around 11:00 PM). I estimate they were called 10-15 mintues before we were.

    Another time there was a call for a fire under the bridge on Iron Bridge Road (our territory). We were never paged, but the other department was. There was a call for a vehicle accident on Christmas at the intersection Concord and Kemp Roads (our territory). The other department was paged, but we weren't. There was a call to an MVA/HazMat spill on Florida/Georgia Higway North at Wayside Farms Road (our territory). Never paged, other department was.

    Question. How many times have there been an actual life or death situation that getting your company toned out would have made the difference?
    None to my knowledge. But there is always a chance.

    How much higher a percentage of risk is there that you getting toned out may lead to accidents?
    That doesn't matter. If anyone is paged, there is always a chance that they might wreck.

    Is there a history of driving related problems that may have led to a decision by SO to do this?
    No.
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    It *sounds* like they either don't know what they're doing or don't care and would rather concentrate on the police side of things. That often ends up happening when police dispatchers handle fire communications. Your cheif's idea of "just don't talk to them" is stupid and not solving anything. It makes it worse because now they won't expect to hear you. Then when you start screaming for help on the radio, they have tuned it out.

    The person in charge of your dept needs to talk to the person in charge of the dispatchers and get this fixed. Nothing anyone says or thinks here is going to do jack.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Your cheif's idea of "just don't talk to them" is stupid and not solving anything. It makes it worse because now they won't expect to hear you. Then when you start screaming for help on the radio, they have tuned it out.
    I haven't exactly followed this order. I still tell them everything. I too thought it was a dumb idea.

    The person in charge of your dept needs to talk to the person in charge of the dispatchers and get this fixed.
    Already happened, no results.
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    Maryland (DC Suburb)
    Posts
    5,738

    Default

    Well he needs to keep pushing until something DOES happen. If he just stands there with his thumb up his rear and allows it to continue, it is not going to change.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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