By Richard Van Winkle, News of Mill Creek.
On Thursday morning, October 12, 2017, the boards of SNOPAC and SNOCOM, Snohomish County’s 9-1-1 dispatch centers, voted unanimously to merge their organizations. The merger has been discussed in joint meetings for two years.
It is expected that the merger will take effect in early 2018 and will gradually result in improved 9-1-1 dispatch services as personnel are cross trained and equipment is switched over.
Although there will be no layoffs, $1 million of labor cost savings may be realized through attrition over the next one to two years as the dispatch centers consolidate operations.
According to a joint news release SNOPAC Board Chair and Fire District 7 Assistant Fire Chief Steve Guptill expressed his appreciation to the staff at both dispatch centers, the two boards, and police and fire agencies who “have placed public safety above all other interests with this merger. We are eager to complete this transition and continue to look for additional ways to improve our public safety system in Snohomish County.”
“Both SNOCOM & SNOPAC have a long and esteemed history of service to our County and by joining forces we will continue that legacy together,” said SNOCOM Board Chair and Mountlake Terrace Mayor Jerry Smith.
Snohomish County Executive Dave Sommers said, “Today’s vote to consolidate SNOPAC and SNOCOM is good for the residents of Snohomish County. With a unified and seamless system, public safety is improved and our emergency response is made much more efficient. On behalf of the county, I congratulate all those who were involved.”
SNOPAC, based in Everett, and SNOCOM, based in Mountlake Terrace, together handled about 1,800 9-1-1 calls each day in 2017.
A number of these calls had to be transferred from one dispatch center to the other because modern telecommunications technology and the public’s move from land-line telephones to mobile devices made it difficult know where 9-1-1 calls are coming from. This resulted in delayed responses to some emergencies.
At the September 12, 2017, Mill Creek City Council meeting Mayor Pam Pruitt said 100 emergency calls from city residents a month are delayed due to transfers between dispatch centers.