POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – The process of responding to emergency calls in the Poland area could improve this summer thanks to a new dispatching agreement, but firefighters believe even more needs to be done.
The same crews will be dispatched, but starting in July, it may take a little less time to get to emergency calls. It’s all thanks to a new agreement allowing Austintown to handle 911 calls for the Western Reserve Joint Fire District.
“AMR will continue to be our primary ambulance provider in Poland Village and Poland Township, and the fire department will continue to be the backup,” said Wester Reserve Joint Fire District Chief Chip Comstock.
Austintown is one of nine answering centers in Mahoning County, and it’s not uncommon for 911 calls to be transferred twice and even three times to a dispatcher.
Emergency calls within the same community are often handled by different locations. Comstock says his board of trustees would like to see county commissioners support a single, centralized system.
“We believe that our police and fire and EMS should be dispatched out of the same center, wherever that might be located,” Comstock said.
It’s something the County Fire Chiefs Association has been pushing for years, claiming it would not only save time getting calls dispatched but would improve communications between departments, pointing to a recent incident where a firefighter in Poland was assaulted on a call.
“They have to get a hold of AMR, who has to get a hold of our dispatch center, who has to get a hold of the Poland Police Department to get them en route for a firefighter being assaulted,” said Chief Mark Pitzer, a spokesperson for the Mahoning County Fire Chiefs Association.
Mahoning County Commissioner Carol Reghetti thinks the agreement between Western Reserve and Austintown is a step in the right direction.
“We’re working towards that. We’re not there yet, but this is a start,” she said.
But Pitzer said the end-users of the system, which includes the 230,000 residents of Mahoning County, need to see change.
“When they pick up the phone to call 911, they should be able to speak to somebody directly that can get them the help they need immediately,” Pitzer said.