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A look inside Lucas County 911 dispatch

Fire crews were sent to the wrong location a few weeks ago. Here's how officials are addressing it.

More than 1,000 calls come into Lucas County 911 dispatch every day.

And since a countywide 911 consolidation last fall, all of those calls now go to a central dispatching center since Lucas County consolidated its eight former regional 911 centers into one unit. 

The consolidation has not been without its issues, including an incident in which crews were mistakenly dispatched to downtown Toledo when they were actually needed in Sylvania to help a woman whose car was on fire. 

But officials with the agency that oversees Lucas County's 911 operations say they are working to address problems.

"It's been a lot of work," said Brian Twining,  Deputy Director of the Lucas County 911 Regional Council of Governments. "The people that work here have been great because there's been a lot they've had to go through to get to this point,  but things have went fairly well. Obviously, we have some things we need to continue to train and work on but we'll get there."

Dispatchers also say they are adapting to the new, consolidated system.

Justyn Dale has been dispatching emergency calls for 21 years and said the merge didn't impact the way he does his job, but he does see an increased number of calls in the consolidated operation. 

In 2019, the county committee that oversees 911 operations voted to consolidate Lucas County's call centers into one, larger operation. The move came after a study found that it could not only cut operational costs from $15.38 million a year to $10.17 million a year, but also improve service by reducing the number of misdirected calls.

Some critics of consolidation point to the recent car fire incident as a red flag that the process is not going well. 

In the early morning hours of Feb. 11, a woman crashed her car at the intersection of Erie and Monroe streets in Sylvania. Nearby residents who came to the woman's rescue called 911, but as the woman's car burst into flames and burned, rescue crews were mistakenly sent to Erie and Monroe streets in downtown Toledo -- about 12 miles away. 

An investigation led authorities to attribute the misdirected crews to human error. And Stacey Mitchell, the executive director for the Lucas County 911 Regional Council of Governments that runs the dispatch center, said the agency is taking steps to address it.

"We recognize what happened, we work with the operators, we do retraining, we acknowledge it and then we just do better in the future," she said.

"When an operator goes to verify a location like that you get multiple choices," Mitchell said. "Streets that sound alike or streets that are the same in different communities, they have always been a challenge for 911. They've been a challenge before consolidation. They will be a challenge after."

Mitchell said officials are not investigating any other misdirected-call issues at this time. 

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