Clark County Commissioner: Drowning highlights dispatch problems

Commissioner John Detrick said Mad River Twp. should join the county dispatch.

The 911 calls from a recent drowning show flaws with the dispatching system in Mad River Twp., Clark County Commissioner John Detrick said Friday.

Emergency calls out of Mad River Twp. first go to dispatch at the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office then calls the emergency into Mad River Twp. dispatch.

Detrick says that second call is the problem.

“You have to have two calls to get it transferred,” Detrick said. “And with our state of the art technology, we can immediately identify the pond and where the individual was.”

Mike Gural, 86, was pulled from a pond on his property near Enon on Tuesday. He later died at Springfield Regional Medical Center.

A member of Gural’s family called 911, and reached a dispatcher at the sheriff’s office. A county dispatcher then called a Mad River Twp. dispatcher to let them know that fire and EMS services were needed.

In another 911 call obtained by the Springfield News-Sun, a Mad River Twp. dispatcher had difficulty hearing a caller trying to explain his emergency.

“I’m sorry we have a really bad connection,” the dispatcher said. “What’s the address?”

It could save time if all townships operated through the county dispatch center, Detrick said.

Gural’s death probably couldn’t have been avoided, Detrick said, because of the length of time he was in the pond. But, “time is of an essence when somebody is sick,” he said.

Gural’s wife, Charlotte, said help arrived quickly and she had no complaints about how dispatchers responded to the emergency.

Mad River Twp. Fire Chief Tracy Young said it was handled as fast as possible.

“We were able to quickly get to the victim,” Young said.

The experience of the Mad River dispatchers makes them irreplaceable, Young said.

“Our dispatchers have been doing it for years,” Young said. “They have more familiarity with the area.”

Many metropolitan areas also operate the same way by transferring calls from a central dispatch center to a secondary dispatch center, Young said.

“Having our own dispatchers is beneficial for the township,” he said.

Clark County officials recently said they could cut dispatching costs for the township in half.

Mad River Twp. trustees pay about $76,000 annually for emergency dispatching, including salaries for four in-house dispatchers. The township may also spend $40,000 to renovate its fire station to make way for a centralized dispatching center.

Clark County Sheriff officials said township trustees could pay less than $40,000 annually if they contracted with the county.

The township would lose procedural control over dispatchers if it outsourced, Young said, as well as other programs tailored to the community.

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