911 SERVICE Salem faces higher cost for program

The state is considering increasing educational requirements for dispatchers.
SALEM -- City officials are taking a wait-and-see approach after learning they might get stuck with an unexpected $60,000 bill.
Columbiana County Commissioner Gary Williams said he's looking into proposed Ohio legislation that would require dispatchers and other safety personnel to have training as emergency medical technicians.
Williams is the commissioner who is overseeing the county's enhanced 911 program that is projected to begin in the third quarter this year.
At a recent meeting of the 911 technical advisory committee, Robert K. Emmons, the director of the project, mentioned the legislation.
Under the county's plan, five answering points will receive calls in their area: Salem, Columbiana, East Palestine, East Liverpool and the county sheriff's office.
Emmons also said the large amount of equipment going into each center is creating so much heat that steps must be taken to make sure it is properly cooled in order to function.
City council was told this week it might have to pay for the training as well as for the creation of a controlled-temperature room in the city hall basement for equipment.
Councilman Greg Oesch, who heads council's finance committee, said he feared the overtime cost for training city safety workers could cost $50,000 or $60,000.
The county's plan for 911 called for the county to pay for the equipment and the subdivisions served by each answering center to continue to take calls and dispatch at existing dispatching centers.
The system is being funded with fees on phones.
Williams said the 911 plan has money that could be used for training and to provide proper cooling for equipment.
The commissioner said he had been unable to find the language for the proposed training legislation. He added that people were worrying about something that hasn't happened yet.
If the training proposal becomes law, Williams said the 911 committee would discuss the possibility of helping the city with the overtime costs.

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