Dunwoody City Councilman Danny Ross told council members they were making a costly mistake by moving forward with a contract with the Chattahoochee River 911 Authority.
Despite Ross’ complaints, other council members agreed to go ahead and move the city’s 911 service to ChatComm in October, as scheduled.
Ross raised his complaints after City Manager Warren Hutmacher told council members at the August 8 meeting that there would be a slight hitch in the transfer from DeKalb’s 911 system to Chatcomm. A program to sync ChatComm’s Computer Aided Distpatch (CAD) system to DeKalb County’s seamlessly will not be ready by October, he said.
“They’re going to get to this, but it’s not going to be until the first of next year,” Hutmacher said.
Dunwoody police calls will be dispatched directly by ChatComm. But fire and EMS calls, which account for about 10 percent of emergency calls, will still be handled by DeKalb County, Ross said.
Until the CAD-to-CAD system can be configured, Hutmacher said the city’s fire and EMS calls will be sent to DeKalb County using a system called a one-button transfer, where an operator will manually transfer a call to DeKalb.
During the heated meeting, Ross asked the council to consider deferring the contract with ChatComm until the CAD to CAD system is tested and ready.
“You assume this was an acceptable solution,” Ross told Hutmacher of the one-button transfer. “I disagree with that vehemently. To place a burden on our people that may be financial as well as physical is unacceptable. We’re better than that.”
Ross said that the sensitive nature of fire and EMS calls means the seconds lost in the transfer could be dangerous.
Ross said the delay in 911 calls could also bump Dunwoody to a lower fire insurance rating, which Ross calculated would mean a $200 increase in insurance costs for the average home.
But Hutmacher said that is unlikely.
“ISO classification is done by fire district. DeKalb County is a fire district,” Hutmacher said. “Communication is 10 percent of the score and we’re a very small percentage of the calls. It’s a very large county.”
Councilman Robert Wittenstein said despite the issues Ross presented, he still felt comfortable beginning the ChatComm contract.
“DeKalb’s 911 system has been broken for a decade and it’s still broken today,” Wittenstein said. “I’m convinced every day we stay with DeKalb is a game of Russian roulette. We’ll be better off with ChatComm and one-button transfer than with DeKalb County.”
City Councilman John Henghan agreed. “I think we’ve still made the correct decision,” he said “I think it’s important we move forward with this on so many levels.”
Ross promised to continue his fight.