Community talks 911 consolidation concerns with Sylvania Township trustees

SYLVANIA TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WTVG) - In Lucas County, communities are taking a close look at what 911 consolidation would mean to them, and Tuesday Sylvania Township had its turn.

As trustees consider the potential effects county leaders say it's the right move.

"We've tried to give an objective look at it, and we've tried to develop a proposal that we think will be safer," county public safety director Matthew Heyerman said.

Last December county commissioners were asked to study the practicality of combined services for Toledo, Maumee, Oregon, Sylvania, Sylvania Township and the Sheriff's Office.

Out of the plan came calls to create a centralized dispatch with call takers and separate police, fire and EMS dispatchers. It's something that Heyerman says will save time and money to the tune of $5.2 million a year for the county.

"There's little doubt that the proposal saves money, and there's little doubt that it provides a safer and more effective solution," Heyerman said.

While the county pushes for consolidation not everyone in Sylvania Township is on board.

"Our people love our jobs, we love the community, we love our co-workers," Sylvania Township dispatcher John Nowak said.

Nowak says he believes combined services will actually slow response times as requests work their way from call takers to dispatchers.

"I can dispatch a call while I'm still talking to you," Nowak said. "That will not happen under a new system where you're adding multi-layers of dispatch or call taking."

Even those from other communities turned out to the meeting and voiced their worry over a central system.

"When you're talking about emergency services you're talking life or death," Oregon resident Steve Salander said.

The former firefighter opposes the move on all sides, especially for first responders as he says one center will hurt communication on the streets.

"[First responders] need that constant, instant reaction to them, which they may lose that in consolidation," Salander said.

Cities like Maumee and Oregon have already officially denounced the call for consolidation. Sylvania Township Trustees say they likely won't take a position for another few weeks.

In the end the ultimate decision to go forward with the plan is up to a five person board, with members from across the county, and they're expected to vote on the matter by late September.