Clark County leaders won’t meet with Mad River about 9-1-1 dispatching

Clark County leaders have decided against attending a special meeting Friday that was called by Mad River Twp. trustees upset about recent criticism of their emergency 9-1-1 system.

County Commissioners John Detrick and Rick Lohnes and Clark County Sheriff officials had initially planned to attend. But Detrick said Thursday the county has made its case for a county-wide centralized dispatch center and wish Mad River Twp. well with its plans for emergency dispatching.

“We’re trying to do what’s best for the citizens of all of Clark County, including Mad River. They have chosen to go another direction,” Detrick said Thursday. “… Nothing we seem to be able to say is going to change their mind.”

Township officials said Detrick was grandstanding when he criticized the township’s emergency dispatchers and accused him of exploiting the drowning of a local man last week to push for a county-wide combined 9-1-1 dispatch system.

Mad River Twp. Trustee Kathy Estep asked Detrick to attend the special meeting Friday afternoon at the Enon Fire station.

Estep reportedly told sheriff officials that trustees still planned to meet Friday, but didn’t respond to calls Thursday from the Springfield News-Sun

She said on Wednesday that she hoped both sides could talk things out at the meeting instead of discussing it in the media.

“I don’t like being critical when the individual isn’t there. And I didn’t want to say anything publicly critical of the county dispatch services, but we have had problems with the county dispatch service,” Estep said.

Detrick recently said the 9-1-1 calls on March 29 involving the drowning of Mike Gural show flaws with the dispatching system in Mad River Twp.

Emergency calls out of Mad River Twp. first go to Clark County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers. The sheriff’s office then calls Mad River Twp.’s in-home dispatchers.

Those added steps are the problem, Detrick has said, slowing down response times. The county also could save the township thousands of dollars each year with a joint system, he said.

But Detrick didn’t have all the facts about the emergency response to the drowning, Estep said Wednesday, and caused pain to Gural’s family.

“I was not happy with the public criticism. I think it was unwarranted and unkind,” she said.

Mad River Fire Chief Tracy Young said he reviewed the calls and said the response was quick and professional, proving the township’s system works.

Mad River Twp. officials are discussing plans to renovate the fire station in Enon and move its emergency dispatchers out of their homes and into a centralized location instead of joining a proposed county-wide dispatch center.

The township will also invest in new technology in anticipation of statewide 9-1-1 technology and operational regulations

Estep had said she hoped Friday’s meeting would “clear the air.”

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for us to be critical of one another and kind of snipe back and forth in the media … I don’t like criticizing people who are doing a service to us. Risking life and limb to save somebody and then to be criticized without all the facts,” she said.

Thank you for reading the Springfield News-Sun and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Springfield News-Sun. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.