UTICA- Authorities in Herkimer and Oneida Counties are floating the possibility of eventually merging their 9-1-1 emergency services into a consolidated dispatch system.
If accomplished, officials say shared features between the counties would include: 9-1-1 texting ability; a local first responder notification system known as ‘IamResponding;’ a Nurse Navigation program to divert non-emergency calls to licensed nurses and a back-up 9-1-1 center.
“I have long been a proponent of consolidation and we have implemented many practices in Oneida County that have improved efficiency and saved our taxpayers money,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr.
“Bringing Utica, Rome and New Hartford into our county 911 system was a major success and adding Herkimer County into the fold would greatly improve the emergency services of our region. This measure would alleviate the impact of the critical shortage in the telecommunicator workforce, reduce cost and increase the safety for all of our residents.”
“Herkimer and Oneida counties are not unlike many other government and private entities when it comes to the shortage of employees for vital services,” said Herkimer County Chairman Vincent J. Bono.
“Recently, both counties have made mention of short staffing in their 911 centers and have identified the critical need to explore consolidation efforts in this area. Herkimer County looks forward to working with our neighbors in Oneida County to investigate what can be done in this field. Looking at all aspects of 911 center operations, and how both governments can provide efficient, safe and effective service for their residents should be explored now more than ever.”
According to the Oneida County Government Office, both counties have had preliminary meetings to discuss the feasibility of consolidating their 911 dispatching services and are actively evaluating the process. Officials believe several factors would contribute to a smooth transition including:
- Their shared geographical boarder.
- Several police and fire agencies and ambulance services already covering areas in both counties.
- The ability to share information via the internet, microwave radio systems, fiber optics and mobile devices. (Herkimer County currently has radio equipment installed on an Oneida County tower in the Town of Steuben).
- Technology that permits emergency call processing and dispatching to take place virtually, but remain local to reflect the needs of the public and first responders.
Officials say bringing Herkimer County into Oneida County’s 911 system would be supported by monthly phone, cell phone and VOIP surcharges and shared services grants would be available through the New York State.
Oneida County absorbed the 911 systems of the City of Rome in 1997, the Town of New Hartford in 2010 and the City of Utica in 2012.
Oneida County image.