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Central Dispatch releases 2018 report

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NERVE CENTER: Central Dispatch Communication Officer Sabine Grice, left, and Shift Supervisor Kolleen Dillingham, right, work their 12-hour shift Friday morning.
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DISPATCH: Shift Supervisor Kolleen Dillinghamworks at her console at Clinton County Central Dispatch on Friday morning.

By AARON KENNEDY - akennedy@ftimes.com

The Clinton County Central Dispatch released its end-of-the-year report for 2018 recently, and it showed that fewer people called for help than in the previous year.

Central Dispatch Director Rene Crick said she was surprised to learn that 911 calls were down 4 percent with a total of 15,684 in 2018, and administrative calls were down 12 percent to 49,321.

“You have your slower days and your busier days, but I would have never guessed that our calls had decreased,” Crick said.

Frankfort Mayor Chris McBarnes believes the reduction in calls for help is a direct reflection of an overall reduction in crime.

“I believe that goes right in line with overall crime decreasing by 17 percent in the city from 2017 to 2018,” he said. “As we are seeing crime decrease, it would make sense that calls into central dispatch would line up accordingly.”

The 2018 report also showed that 86 percent of all 911 calls received were wireless calls, continuing a trend that began years ago.

“Over the last few years, that has really increased,” Crick said. “People are trying to save money, and they are doing away with their home phones – the traditional land lines – and just going straight cellular phones. Years ago, it was the complete opposite. The majority were land line 911 calls. This is definitely the largest (percentage) we have had.”

Central Dispatch also received 75 text messages to 911 – a function introduced state-wide in May 2014 – and they sent a total of 992 texts from 911.

“We get 911 hang-up calls,” Crick explained. “We try to call phone numbers back on a 911 hang-up but, if they don’t, then we can text from 911 to someone.

“It is also a great tool for the hearing impaired,” she added. “There may be a situation where it is not safe for someone to make that phone call and be speaking, so they can text to 911 for any emergency.”

Central Dispatch now has more than 8,100 Nixle subscribers, who choose to receive mass notifications via text or email.

“People can go to nixle.com and create a login,” Crick said. “They can customize it that way. So, there may be things that they don’t wan to get, so they can choose their different options. Or, you can text your zip code to 888777.”

Plus, all Nixle alerts are immediately posted to Central Dispatch’s Facebook page or their Twitter account, @Clinton Co911.

Crick was also happy to report that Central Dispatch ended the year fully staffed.

“It is definitely not for everybody,” she said. “We have a really good group of people right now. I am very proud of them. They have the desire to help people.”

In 2018, Central Dispatch purchased and installed Total Response Call Handler and light towers for their four consoles. The call handler provides situation-specific questions and pre-arrival instructions based on the nature of the call.

“The questions we ask and the answers we receive are available to our public safety responders to see as they are enroute to calls,” Crick said. “I believe having these tools will continue to allow us to provide the best service to our community and provide more consistent call handling.”

The light towers that were installed show others in the room when a dispatcher is on the phone, on the radio or in need of extra help, using green, yellow and flashing red lights to display the status.

“(The upgrades) make us more efficient,” Crick said. “You need to be efficient in this job. It is chaotic at times. It’s good to know that when you drop that call nature in that you will not have to search for the right protocol.”

This year, Crick hopes to provide her staff with more specialized training.

“Last year, the Indiana 911 board said that they would pay for trainings for dispatch centers," she said. "The state will pay for that. It alleviates my training budget. So, we can do specialized trainings and go to different things. We have different trainings coming up that we will be attending to help keep up on things. I want us to be able to grow and to learn. Sometimes, it just helps to interact with other agencies and learn things that maybe we can try.”

Crick’s advises everyone to be aware of their surroundings.

“It doesn’t matter if you are here in Clinton County or you are in vacation in another state. Be aware of your surroundings,” she said. “If you have an emergency, don’t hesitate to call. But, if you don’t know your location, pay attention to road signs, landmarks and things like that. Help those dispatchers that are taking that call be able to get the help to you quickly by knowing where you are at. So, just pay attention to your surroundings and be aware.”