October 20, 2018

Central dispatch exceeds yearly call volume

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STANDISH — Arenac County Central Dispatch receives around 10,000 call complaints a year, however, it has already breached it’s annual average with a little more than three months left in the year.

As of Sept. 19, central dispatch has received 10,308 complaints, a call resulting in response by police, firefighters or EMS services, according to Director Yvonne King. She said if it maintains its current 1,200 monthly average, it is on track to reach 14,000 complaints by the end of the year.

King said she was unsure as to why there was an upspike in dispatch complaints.

“Each type of call he have has a classification,” King said. “It could be an ambulance, fire, assault or larceny but going through those and comparing them, they're all up a little bit but there's no one spike in any specific area.”

Between Sept. 2 and Sept. 8, central dispatch received 27 calls requesting EMC, 10 requesting the fire department and 217 requesting law enforcement for a total of 254 complaints in the six-day span, according to King.

The yearly average has been fairly consistent, King said, with the exception of 2011 when the number of complaints reached about 16,000. She added that year also experienced a general increase in complaint categories across the board.

She said central dispatch had seemed busier than normal but because it experienced employee turnover earlier in the year, it was unclear whether the influx in complaints was the sole cause of the increased workload.

Central dispatch isn’t the only entity that has noticed the increase in complaints.

Standish Area Fire Authority Chief Mitch Oliver said a challenge of any volunteer organization is making sure there is enough personnel when needed, which isn't helped by increased dispatch complaints.

While daytime calls are especially tricky because people inherently aren't always around, Oliver said the addition of ten new firefighters in the past 18 months has kept the department from being overwhelmed. But , he added, the department is always looking for new recruits.

As to why the influx in complaints is happening, Oliver said he believed it may be caused by a more prosperous economy attracting more people to the area. He also said that the amount of dead ash trees in the area may have something to do with it.

“One of the things we have been seeing on a regular basis are all the dead ash trees are taking out power lines more often than we used to have,” Oliver said. “So we get a lot of powerline calls.”

Arenac County Undersheriff Don McIntyre said that typically after holiday seasons, for example the span from Labor day to Memorial day, there is a drop off in complaints.

This year however, the call volume has not dropped during the typical slow periods of past years, McIntyre said.

The increase in complaints has been apparent at the sheriff’s office, McIntyre said, but thanks to voters passing a millage increase and funds from the Operation Stonegarden grant program, the sheriff’s office was able to add around 400 hours of extra patrol hours this summer and keep a handle on the influx of complaints.

“People know the number to 911 and they are not hesitant to call when they see something going on, which is a good thing,” McIntyre said. “We are able to solve a lot of crimes when people call things in as it happens rather than respond after the fact. Certainly people in our community trust the police and they're calling in asking for help when they need it and we appreciate that.”

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