By Bonnie Adams, Government Editor
Westborough – At its May 8 meeting, the Board of Selectmen approved a request for the town to contract with UMass Memorial Emergency Medical Services for enhanced emergency medical dispatch services (EMD). The measure is necessary, Town Manager Jim Malloy told the board, because new regulations mandated by the state will soon require standardized EMD protocols.
Currently all 911 calls are answered by the Police Department and are then transferred to the appropriate department, Police or Fire/EMS. Malloy said to satisfy the new EMD requirements, the Police Department would have to hire more staff and equipment, or the Fire Department would have to hire additional personnel. The cost could potential add up to $200,000, he noted.
Under the new proposal, 911 calls would still come into the Police Department, which would then reroute the EMD calls to the UMass Dispatch Center. The cost of the proposal is estimated at $34,000. As that money would come out of the 911 funds the town receives, there would be no extra cost to taxpayers.
Police Chief Alan Gordon and Fire Chief Nick Perron stressed that most residents would not notice any difference in how their emergency calls were handled; it was only the dispatch that was changing.
“For a handful of residents who need really advanced care right away, such as someone choking, they will be getting thorough information from UMass until the Fire Department gets there,” Gordon said.
erron said he was comfortable with the proposed plan, especially as the staffing that the town would be required to add would be “impossible to do.”
“UMASS [personnel] are very well-trained. It's a win-win for the town and the people who use it,” Perron said.
The board unanimously agreed to support the request.
The next step, Gordon said, is for the town to submit a grant to the state 911 Board for approval. Police Lt. Todd Minardi will be writing the grant, he noted.
There was some urgency, he added, as the state requires that the measure be approved by July 1, which is the start of fiscal year 2013.
“But we should be OK,” he said. “I don's anticipate that we will have any problems getting it approved.”