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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

DISCUSSION: WILL DIRECTOR WERSTLER BE IN, OUT OR DIMINISHED IN A RE-WORKED STARK COUNTY 9-1-1?


Pictured to the left is Tim Werstler, a Stark County native, who is Director of Stark County's EMA (Emergency Management Agency) & 9-1-1 Dispatch Center (located in the basement of the Sheriff's Department).

This center is set to be shut down with the dispatch center consolidation which is to take place in the near future.

Werstler is bullish for the Bosley Plan (which includes an increase of 1/4% in the Stark County Sales/Use Tax) to resolve 9-1-1 funding, configuration, structuring and organizational problems. But will he be a key figure in the re-work?

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has learned that Werstler does not have universal support among Stark County's emergency force leadership.

Seen in the video accompanying the posting, Werstler at the Stark County commissioners meeting of December 2nd, tells the commissioners that he is ready to go to get a revamped 9-1-1 system up and running. But, of course, his work will have to be in the context of the remaining dispach centers: the CenCom (Nimishillen Township), the RED (Regional Emergency Dispatch), Canton City dispatch and Stark Sherrif's dispatch.

The Report spoke with Werstler on Friday about Bosley's Plan and how 9-1-1 is currently set up. The basis of the conversation was in the context of three 9-1-1 calls received by Stark County EMA and 9-1-1 Dispatch Center on December 7th pertaining to a tense unfolding Stark County emergency.

The scene is an accident at Georgetown Rd & Miday Ave in Nimishillen Township. Three 9-1-1 audio files for calls made are included in this blog below for readers to listen in (click on a file a time which should bring up your default audio player) on the progression of the event from the 9-1-1 perspective.



The question is: what is the significance in terms of response times of the three 9-1-1 phone calls (edited to remove name references and phone numbers)?

Werstler indicates that maybe the response of his dispatchers cost a minute or two in terms (shuttling the caller over to the Ohio Patrol rather than to a fire department) of getting the Nimishillen Township Fire Department to the scene of the accident.

A knowledgeable alternative source has told The Report that a "common sense" dispatcher response would have, within 15 to 20 seconds after the dispatcher received the 9-1-1 call and an additional 20 or 30 seconds spent ascertaining that this was clearly a fire/medical situation, had the first caller in touch with the appropriate fire department - and, not re-directed to the Ohio Patrol. This source estimates that two minutes were lost in getting the message to the appropriate fire department.

Of course, a minute or two can be a critical difference when it comes to responding to an emergency.

The Bosley Plan of reconfiguring/reorganizing/restructuring and properly funding 9-1-1 is, as The Report understands it, designed to eliminate dispatching problems as experienced in the Georgetown Rd/Miday Avenue incident as well as the more complicated situations which involve boundary issues and cellphone caller locations.

The Report is lead to understand that dispatching problems like the Georgetown/Miday one are not uncommon under the currently functioning Stark County EMA and 9-1-1 Dispatch Center operations.

Director Werstler's primary goal is for a more thoroughly trained dispatcher core as Stark County evolves to a "one dispatch center" (e.g. a core, perhaps, that will be trained and equipped to make more effective and efficient dispatch decisions and maybe even be trained to provide on-the-line instruction such as emergency CPR walk-throughs to a 9-1-1 caller).

All well and good, but in view of the demise of the Stark County Dispatch Center and at least some some dissatisfaction with the quality of his leadership, the question becomes:

What will be Werstler's role in a reconstituted Stark County 9-1-1?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In 2008 Stark County has seen alot of good and alot of poor leadership from elected officials. How about a blog of Stark Best and Worst elected people of 2008. How about a combination of both? I am curious to see your take on who are the best and the worst going into 2009 and why? Every Community in Stark County is faced with the same economic and budget problems which one are suited the best to adress these issues and which one are not?

Commisioners, Mayor's, Council ,Trustees, Local State and County Office Holders.