Public safety officials and Vermonters in Derby, Rutland and dozens of surrounding towns have been rallying behind a worker- and VSEA-led campaign to protect the critical service 911 Emergency Dispatchers provide daily to regular citizens and to the police, fire and EMS personnel in the communities they serve.
Derby and Rutland Dispatchers were forced into action after learning that the Administration’s budget proposal contained a suggestion to save money by consolidating four Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs; a.k.a. 911 Dispatch Centers) in to just two offices, eliminating the Derby and Rutland PSAPs outright and potentially displacing dozens of seasoned public safety professionals. Wasting no time, Dispatchers reached out to each other across the state, and, working together, they created a Facebook page to keep each other updated on what’s happening, what the needs are and how efforts are going to build community support. They also began enlisting the backing of local police, fire and EMS personnel. But the Dispatchers didn’t stop there, they also created an online petition, where Vermonters opposed to cutting this critical public service can go to join the growing chorus of Vermonters who strongly disagree with the Administration’s proposed cut.
On January 24, the Rutland Herald published a story about the proposed cut to the PSAP in Rutland, quoting VSEA member and frontline 911 Dispatcher Ann Masse explaining the adverse impact she and her colleagues believe the proposed cut will have.
“From a Dispatcher’s standpoint, this is a safety issue for responders and the public because it can only lead to delays in response time,” Massey told the paper. “A lot of people don’t understand what we do. You need to know the roads and the intersections and the local landmarks that only the people who live in the area know about.” She adds that dispatchers need to understand the capabilities and personalities of the agencies for which they dispatch. To prove her point about the importance of knowing the local lay of the land, Masse cites the example of a tour bus accident last winter in West Haven where the Rutland PSAP had to quickly dispense the emergency services needed to care for multiple victims.
“Someone in Rockingham isn’t going to know where to find 20 ambulances that can get to the scene the quickest,” Masse says. “These are situations where seconds count.”
In the story, Masse and her colleagues in Rutland and around the state receive very strong support from the local firefighting community for the Dispatchers’ campaign to stop what many in Rutland are calling “an ill-advised cut.”
“We think the changes the [Administration is] talking about would be detrimental to us all,” says Fair Haven Police Chief William Humphries. “They’re our lifeline and they’re from this area and know this area. The relationship we have is important. The job isn’t as simple as looking at Google maps.”
Rutland Fire Chief Robert Schlachter agreed, saying, “Many people might say, ‘Hey, this is good, it saves money,’ but in other respects, there are consequences that threaten public safety.”
And Wallingford Fire Chief Stephane Goulet also weighs in, saying, “It’s about trust. You know who you’re dealing with and they know you…your capabilities and what you need.
Here’s How You Can Help:
Ask him to "Stop the cut to the Dispatchers!"
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