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Posted: 06/11/14

WT in discussion on
outsouring dispatch services

Observer Special Writer
      With their plans of using Oakland County dispatch services derailed, Washington Township officials continue to pursue alternatives for outsourcing the handling of the township's fire and emergency 911 calls.
       Supervisor Dan O'Leary and Fire Chief Brian Tyrell met June 5 with representatives from the South East Regional Emergency Services Authority (SERESA). SERESA is a consolidated dispatch center that serves Eastpointe, Roseville and St. Clair Shores.
       "It was an introductory meeting," O'Leary said. "They are very interested in handling our account. They have many of the strong qualities that Oakland County has."
       O'Leary and Tyrell have been pursuing alternative dispatch operations as a way to enhance efficiency, gain technical improvements and free up resources.
       Presently, a dedicated Washington Township Fire Department (WTFD) employee coordinates fire, police and emergency 911 calls within the township. 911 calls are routed through the Macomb County sheriff's department.
       Outsourcing dispatch services would allow the department to place that person in the field, rather than behind a desk, Tyrell has stated.
       Washington Township was in discussions with Oakland County for the latter to take over dispatching for the township. Under such an arrangement, calls originating from the township that go to Macomb County would be transferred to Oakland's dispatch center, who would then take responsibility for coordinating personnel and resources.
       Oakland officials backed out of the discussions, however, after Macomb County expressed concerns about the risk of losing a 911 call during the three-way transfer. Macomb's legal counsel believes the transfer could create liability issues.
       Macomb County opened its new, $13.5 million Macomb County Communications and Technology Center (COMTEC) in December 2013, which it views as being able to handle the township's dispatch needs.
       But neither Tyrell nor O'Leary are ready to contract with COMTEC. In the meantime, they are seeking other options, with SERESA being one of them.
       SERESA has been in operation since 2010 and features 18 dispatchers who handle approximately 85,000 911 calls and 100,000 fire and police calls annually for the three cities the organization serves.
       "We met with SERESA board members and their director of operations, we saw their dispatch center, we watched their people in action," O'Leary said. "We talked about deliverables and the kinds of things they can do for us. Many of the things we are looking for from Oakland, they are capable of doing.
       "It was an exploratory conversation. There is still some work to do," the supervisor said.
       One unanswered question is whether SERESA can serve as the township's public safety answering point (PSAP) for 911 calls, which currently go through Macomb County.
       SERESA officials are investigating their capabilities in that area. Future discussions between Washington and SERESA are planned, pending the results of those investigations.

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