911 dispatch contract signed
‘This is the best route for public safety in Webster County’
The Webster County Telecommunications Board unanimously approved a contract with New Jersey-based IXP at its meeting Thursday afternoon.
IXP will assume operations of the 911 dispatch center that is located in the Webster County Law Enforcement Center, effective immediately.
The board’s action to approve the IXP contract comes more than six months after the board initially decided to move forward with the firm.
The contract is for five years, but the Telecom Board can opt out if it is not satisfied with IXP’s service.
IXP, of Princeton, New Jersey, is a public safety management services company. The company launched in 2000. It works with about 200 clients across the country and employs about 180 people.
The first year cost for IXP’s services is $560,000. Webster County Chief Deputy Rod Strait, chairman of the Telecom Board, said the majority of that expense is tied to employee compensation.
Fort Dodge Fire Chief Steve Hergenreter, who is a member of the Telecom Board, said the hire of IXP will improve certain aspects in 911 dispatch.
He said dispatchers should be able to improve how to process calls.
“This will also give us the ability to transition to emergency medical dispatching,” Hergenreter said.
He said emergency medical dispatching includes dispatchers gathering correct information from the caller and relaying that information to EMS personnel.
It also includes the ability for dispatchers to give some medical direction to the caller.
“Checking for pulse, controlling bleeding,” Hergenreter said.
He said medical dispatching is something that is not occurring right now in Webster County.
“We have great staff and I think those are some things that will make the dispatch system even better,” Hergenreter said.
Dylan Hagen, Webster County emergency management coordinator, expressed concern over the potential loss of employees.
“Is there a backup plan if we lose two or three dispatchers?” Hagen said. “They are already short. They have new people in that aren’t certified.”
In other business, the board approved a continued stipend of $500 in lieu of insurance for full-time telecommunication employees.
“One big thing was insurance,” Bruce McCormack, of Gowrie, a member of the Telecom Board, said. “I think that’s the better way to go. And we will have the oversight and training.”
Steve Elifrits, of Dayton, another Telecom Board member, said he has concerns about IXP because they are a for-profit company.
“We can do the training in house,” Elifrits said. “These guys are money motivated. We are paying them. If something goes wrong here are we getting less services over here. At the end of the day if something goes wrong to where they have to spend money, are we losing services over here, because they aren’t going to go in the hole.”
Webster County Supervisor Nick Carlson, also a board member, said the move to IXP should benefit public safety.
“This is the best route for public safety in Webster County at this time,” Carlson said. “I think Brittni (Nelson, dispatcher) has stepped up to the plate and done an amazing job. I think this could take us to the next level.”
Strait said he voted against moving forward with IXP back in November.
“The discussion on IXP has come and gone,” Strait said. “I voted against it, but at this time we are looking at the contract.”
IXP will be responsible for the personnel of the dispatch center. A separate board, the E911 board, will maintain responsibility over the dispatch center’s equipment.
Fort Dodge Police Chief Roger Porter, also a member of the telecom board, said IXP will begin its recruitment strategies immediately.