MOUNT VERNON — The Knox County 9-1-1 Technical Advisory Committee voted Wednesday afternoon to recommend the revised 9-1-1 implementation plan the committee has prepared during the last few months.
The revised plan keeps much of the language of the original 9-1-1 plan, written in 1993, with some updates and changes.
The 9-1-1 Board will continue to be made up of the same represenatives from around the county. The Knox County Sheriff, Mount Vernon police and fire chiefs, the Mount Vernon mayor, a representative of the village mayors, the president of the Knox County commissioners, the president of the Knox County Fire and EMS Chiefs Association, a representative of the Knox County EMS Board, the president of the Knox County Trustees and Clerks Association and a citizen-at-large will all remain on the board.
The TAC recommended the 9-1-1 board keep the same responsibilities and duties as the original plan dicated, with some of the language updated and the inclusion of the union contract process regarding dispatchers, adopted after the 1993 plan.
The language requiring the board to observe and review each dispatch center semiannually was deleted.
The description in the plan of current 9-1-1 operations in the county largely reflects the language of the original 1993 plan, according to Knox County Assistant Prosecutor Chip McConville, who served the TAC as legal advisor and prepared the language in the updated plan.
McConville said the section of the plan which deals with the dispatch centers, known as Public Safety Answering Points, was the subject of much discussion during the TAC meetings.
After the discussions, no substansive changes were made to the PSAP section of the plan, however. The TAC recommended that Knox County continue to operate two separate PSAPs at the current locations.
Rick Lanuzza, Knox County Fire and EMS Chiefs Association president, said during a TAC meeting last week that the majority of chiefs in the county feel the current staffing at the PSAPs is adequate.
“The majority of chiefs think the center is adequately run on a day-to-day basis,” Lanuzza said.
Marie Blubaugh, director of the county’s Emergency Management Agency, said current staffing levels finds two dispatchers on duty each shift at each of the dispatch centers, with three on duty at some times. There are 11 dispatchers employed at the Knox County Sheriff’s Office center, and 12 at the Mount Vernon Police Department center. Blubaugh said that due to high turnover, the full staff of 13 dispatchers at each center has not yet been achieved.
The dispatch center at the KCSO dispatches county fire and law enforcement. The dispatch center at the MVPD dispatches Mount Vernon city police and fire. The onsite supervisor at the KCSO is Sheriff David Barber. The onsite supervisor at the MVPD is Chief Mike Merilees.
The current call routing procedures will remain the same. Misdirected call protocols will also remain, with language added to include wireless calls, which will be redirected in the same way as wireline calls.
The staffing and operation of both dispatch centers will continue to be financed by the 9-1-1 fund. This fund receives revenue from a countywide sales tax.
McConville said the operational matter in the plan dealing with house numbering in the county received extensive discussion among the TAC members. After researching the Ohio Revised Code, the TAC added language to the plan which reflects the authority of municipalities to requre residents to change addresses which are out of numerical sequence. Outside villages and cities, the Knox County Commissioners can require county residents to make such changes.
The Knox County EMA office will make the recommendations to government officials regarding which addresses in the county should be updated to maintain a numerical sequence. This is to ensure first responders are able to find a home where help is needed in an emergency.
All dispatch and answering equipment at the centers will continue to be purchased by the 9-1-1 Fund. A new section was added which authorizes the 9-1-1 Board to specify conditions related to the type and operation of communication equipment purchased by the board for emergency departments. Any equipment purchased for departments by the 9-1-1 Board remains the property of the board.
Doug McLarnan, the township trustee representative on the TAC, recommended one final addition to the plan at Wednesday’s meeting. He recommended adding language to the plan which gives budget approval responsibilities to the 9-1-1 Board.
Currently, the budget is prepared by Blubaugh, then sent to the Knox County Commissioners for approval. Although some of the members voiced the opinion that the current review procedures in place already give the board approval of budget items, McLarnan said he would like to see the language strengthened to make it the board’s responsibility.
“Responsibility comes from the money and the expenditure of tax dollars,” McLarnan said. “Money is what drives an organization.”
McLarnan said that although what money is available is set by the amount collected through the sales tax, how that money is spent could become more of an issue in the next few years as, due to the economy, the amount of money in the 9-1-1 fund may no longer be in excess of what is needed to finance 9-1-1.
TAC members agreed to add language to the 9-1-1 Board’s duties section of the plan to require the board to review and approve the budget prior to its submission to the commissioners.
The revised 9-1-1 plan will now go to the Knox County 9-1-1 Planning Committee for approval. It will then be reviewed for approval by the Knox County Commissioners, then go on to the municipalities and township governments in the county. McConville said a 60 percent vote of approval from those local governments is required to adopt the plan. A public hearing to discuss the revised plan will be held in approximately 30 to 45 days.