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911 Duzzny: Study of merger needed



Published: Wed, January 5, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



County commissioners first must OK any merger plan.

YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County is not opposed to consolidating its 911 dispatch center with Youngstown's, but there are some logistical things that must be worked out, said the county's emergency management director.

City council discussed the matter last week, saying there was a potential of thousands of dollars of savings to both the city and county if the call centers merged.

Walter M. Duzzny, director of the county's Emergency Management Agency, said the county's 911 operation merged with the EMA last August.

"Before we consider consolidation [with the city], we need to look at our own capabilities, including how our new wireless radio system is working," Duzzny said Tuesday.

The county also needs to look at upgrading any city or county dispatching equipment plus review the procedures each entity uses to handle calls, he added.

"We are looking at developing an action plan for the county commissioners to look at," Duzzny said.

Duzzny said once the commissioners give the approval for possible consolidation, there would need to be an assessment of the city's equipment, including its age and how long it is expected to last.

"We would then look at operational needs, including the amount of calls and peak hours calls are dispatched," he added.

Taking calls

Duzzny said the county 911 center takes calls for 14 police departments, and it averages about 12,000 emergency calls a year.

He added that any consolidation talk must take into consideration the officer's safety and the ability to make sure a resident's call is properly routed, and that will take some time and further study.

The county and city 911 dispatch centers are less than 200 yards apart. The city's is on the sixth floor of city hall; the county's is in the administration building.

The city and county each have 14 call takers, and the yearly expense for operating both is about $1 million.

Past merger talks would have the county taking in the city call takers. In return, the city would pay the county for its share of 911 costs.

The county system has satellite answering points in Boardman, Austintown, Canfield and North Lima, but they would not be affected by a consolidation plan, city officials have said.




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