It was with resignation that I read a recent article regarding the proposed consolidation of Benton and Franklin county 911 dispatch centers. Copious hours of work were spent by individuals and payments made to consultants to determine the feasibility of combining operations.
Among the benefits cited were efficient operations and better public safety. This might be true, but the primary concern of the parties involved is cutting costs.
This has been the method of operations for the past 20 years. Commissioners consistently look to avoid making the investment necessary for long-term emergency operations. They do not wish to acknowledge the fact that an investment in quality personnel (read that as higher wages) and quality training is what will improve public safety service in the long term.
Instead, they look for ways to cut corners and make dispatch personnel do more with less. What's next? A phone menu for selecting what 911 emergency the public has? Or should we employ nurses to screen incoming ambulance calls for type of service? They tried that in Texas and it didn't work out.
Perhaps the next step is one center for the east side of the state?
DEAN KUNIGISKY, Kennewick