Mad River Twp. and Clark County leaders will sit down together Friday to discuss their differences over emergency dispatching as their debate has heated up in the past week.
Township officials said Clark County Commissioner John 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.
“My biggest problem with the criticism is the pain it causes to the family. To discuss those things publicly without all the facts, I think is hurtful to the family of the deceased person. I don’t believe that John had all the facts when he spoke about it and indicated that there was a problem on our end,” Mad River Twp. Trustee Kathy Estep said.
Both sides will discuss the issue at 3:30 p.m. Friday at a special meeting at the Enon Fire station.
Clark County Commissioner John Detrick said the 9-1-1 call on the drowning is among numerous examples of problems with the township’s dispatching system.
“They’re taking an issue out of context. The problem is their dispatching. I’m very disappointed they aren’t listening to what is right for the community. I’m hoping we can resolve this by dialogue when they’re one of 65 townships that’s actually doing this in west central Ohio,” Detrick 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 transfers are the problem, Detrick said.
“You have to have two calls to get it transferred,” Detrick has said. “And with our state of the art technology, we can immediately identify the pond and where the individual was.”
Detrick, who is retiring soon, said he has nothing to gain by criticizing the township’s dispatching system and the countywide system would save the townships thousands of dollars each year.
“We’re using it to save lives and to do what’s right for the community. I’m not going to gain anything whether they’re with us or not. I’m just concerned about overall economics,” Detrick said.
Mad River Fire Chief Tracy Young said he reviewed the calls about the drowning and said the response was quick and professional, proving the township’s system works.
Young said it took 13 minutes from the moment family members made the call to the point where crews pulled Gural to the shore and started resuscitation efforts.
“I found no problems whatsoever with the communication within our two dispatch agencies. As a matter of fact, I found that the process time on Clark County’s end was adequate, very sufficient and our process time on our end, for Mad River dispatchers was adequate, very sufficient. I didn’t hear any complications or anything that would hinder communication between the two dispatchers,” Young said.
He said Detrick is trying to “exploit” Gural’s death as part of a plan to establish a countywide 9-1-1 dispatch center.
“A lot of members of our department in our township that are really upset over his comments. He’s got no right to say that. Because he cannot substantiate his claims,” Young said.
It could save time if all townships operated through the county dispatch center, Detrick has said.
Gural’s death probably couldn’t have been avoided, Detrick said, because of the length of time he was in the pond. But, “time is of an essence when somebody is sick,” Detrick has said.
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.
Some of the dispatchers have worked for the township for 20 years, Young said, and didn’t need a sophisticated mapping system to find the pond where Gural was found.
Young admitted that the township dispatcher initially thought the pond sheriff’s dispatchers were referring to was at the VFW, she knew exactly where he was after she was told the victim was further up the street.
“I’ve got the intellectual capital on my end that can’t be replace by a super sophisticated GIS computer system for a dispatcher that doesn’t even live in my township. That’s something that can’t be replaced,” Young said.
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