On Sunday night I attended a community hearing at Center Rutland’s fire house on the proposed closing of Rutland’s 911 dispatch call center. The room was packed and in attendance were representatives from several of Rutland County’s emergency teams, law enforcement and administration. Also attending was most of Rutland County’s legislative delegation.
I know many of you are aware that in his budget address Governor Shumlin proposed closing the PSAP emergency dispatch locations in Rutland and Derby (moving from four locations statewide to just two) and many have recently read that he is firm on this plan as proposed. The entire Rutland County delegation strongly and energetically opposes this move—not just because of the economic impact further job losses will have on our beleaguered region but because of the obvious public safety concerns. We are eager to remind the administration that:
Rutland receives a tremendously high emergency call volume that is managed only through the efforts of its dedicated, veteran staff. What happens when these thousands of calls begin going to another county entirely?
Major questions remain about the technological aspect of this move and whether other public safety entities and municipalities will have the technology in place to communicate with the infrastructure once the “switch” is thrown.
Our region is exceptionally wide and wild, full of hiking and VAST trails so that GPS would do little to help guide rescue personnel to a crisis scene…but that a local and experienced dispatch veteran would.
While the budget provides many areas ripe for cutting, why is the administration looking first at cutting its commitment to public safety?
Along with the Orleans County delegation, we are working every day to identify and put forward other alternatives. We were led to believe by the Shumlin Administration that if we could put forth a plan that would provide similar savings to the budget that they would be open to honest consideration. We hope they were sincere in expressing that sentiment.
We are not holding our breath.
It won’t be easy but we will remain focused and coordinated and will be lobbying the governor’s office very energetically, employing a series of “next step” plans that involve some legislative strategy. As such, we are keeping these plans close to the vest over the next few weeks.
We ask that all of you, along with your friends and family, call the governor’s office at 802-828-3333 and voice your concerns!
As always, call me anytime on my cell phone at 802-558-5153 or email [email protected]
I bring to Montpelier a philosophy of smaller government and I believe in cutting state expenses wherever we can. However, closing this site divorces our government from the very arena where it should excel and never cut corners—public safety. We’ll keep the pressure on, you can count on that.
Job Tate, state representative, Mendon, Chittenden, Killington, Bridgewater.