Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Editorial: Time to merge emergency dispatch operations

Consolidate emergency services

First Published Feb 06 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated Feb 06 2014 01:01 am

If you or a loved one is suffering the crushing pain of a heart attack, the frightful disorientation of a stroke or the indescribable panic of a child who has stopped breathing, the name of the agency in charge of sending emergency aid is the last thing you are worried about.

You don’t care where the dispatcher is sitting, who provided the software or even how much the whole set-up cost. You want help, and you want it now. The same is true of police and fire services, as well as paramedics.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The fact that Salt Lake County doesn’t already have a fully integrated 911 emergency dispatch system — even as nobody ever seems to speak out against such an idea — is evidence that some other authority is going to have to step in and, despite Utahns’ supposed preference for government closest to the people, impose a solution.

That’s what has moved Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, a Democrat, and state House Majority Leader Rep. Brad Dee, a Republican, to stand together Monday and call for state legislation to move all of Utah toward consolidated emergency dispatching systems.

It will be expensive and involve a lot of work to lay out systems that provide the best coverage to the most people. Old political boundaries may have to be ignored or erased in order to provide efficient and effective service.

The fact that Salt Lake County now has three such systems is suspected as the prime culprit in a sad case, reported the other day by Tribune columnist Paul Rolly, of a man who died of a heart attack while his 911 call was somehow dropped or misdirected.

The whole idea behind having a 911 system is that it is simple for even panicked people to remember. You don’t have to know, or find, separate 7- or 9-digit numbers for the police, the fire department and the ambulance. There are even emergency services providers who caution the media to refer to their phone number as "nine-one-one," never "nine-eleven," so that people won’t waste a precious tenth of a second looking for the 11 key on their phone.

The growing number of people who primarily use cell phones, who may live in households with no landline telephones at all, makes the need for a consolidated system even greater. Otherwise, its too easy for a cell call to be routed to the wrong dispatch center.

Utah officials, at both the state and the local level, must work together to make sure there is no such place as the wrong dispatch center. To see to it that, no matter how many jurisdictions are involved, no matter where the dispatchers may be based, calls are immediately sent to the right place.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.