New dispatch system promises efficient use of resources

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Evergreen Fire/Rescue at heart of consolidation

By Beth Potter

A new dispatch center is expected to provide more efficiency for the Evergreen Fire Protection District and at least five neighboring fire districts.

The new dispatch center can handle all 911 calls for fire and medical help anywhere in the six fire districts from a single computer-aided dispatch system coordinated by Evergreen Fire/Rescue dispatchers. 

“This is pretty exciting. It helps everybody do their jobs better,” said Christy McCormick, communications supervisor at Evergreen Fire/Rescue.

The Foothills fire district was the first to join the consolidated dispatch system on April 7. In coming weeks, Inter-Canyon in Morrison, Indian Hills, Elk Creek in Conifer and North Fork in Pine will join the system in a “staggered” order, said Evergreen Fire Chief Mike Weege.

When all is said and done, the number of calls handled by Evergreen dispatchers is expected to double from the current 2,200 per year as a result of the consolidation, McCormick said. Two dispatchers are currently on duty around the clock at the dispatch center, and they should be able to handle the increased volume, she said.

The new dispatch system is a “big leap forward for Evergreen,” Weege said.

“Our dispatchers will have not only quick access and the status of apparatus, but (they’ll have it) for all the stations of all the departments that are participating in this,” Weege said.

The Jefferson County piece of the dispatch system cost about $860,000, Weege said. It’s part of a $1.5 million, two-county consolidated dispatch system.

Separately, Evergreen Fire/Rescue recently upgraded its radio system with a $285,000 grant from the Jeffco Emergency Communications Authority, Weege said. Dispatchers are now able to monitor and talk to everyone in the field — including those in Clear Creek and Gilpin counties — through the new computer-aided dispatch center, he said.


Ambulance service losses

On another topic, Evergreen Fire Protection District board members continue to discuss the district’s money-losing ambulance service. An audit of the 2014 budget indicates the district expects to write off a $425,000 loss, which represents the difference between what Evergreen Fire/Rescue bills for ambulance services and what Medicaid and other insurance providers pay in reimbursements, Weege said at a board meeting on April 8.

The completed audit is expected to be presented at the district board’s May 13 meeting at 1802 Bergen Parkway.

A reception will be held at 6 p.m. that evening for new board members Mike Gregory and John Anderson and departing board members Charlie Simons and Valeri Leswing. The board meeting will start at 7 p.m. Both events are open to the public.