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Douglas County to share 911 equipment

Douglas County will partner with Todd and Wadena counties and host a three-county 911 call-handling server.

The Douglas County commissioners approved a cooperative agreement during Tuesday’s board meeting.

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The dispatch centers in Douglas, Todd and Wadena counties are capable of handling more than their own emergency calls and will now provide “back-up” for one another.

As a future cost-saving move, Sheriff Troy Wolbersen proposed partnering with the counties.

Joe Fick, a representative of Independent Emergency Services, Douglas County’s 911 service provider, addressed the county board Tuesday and explained, “Financially, your benefit comes five years from now when that server core will be replaced and shared with those two counties.”

That server replacement is estimated to cost about $105,000.

“If you don’t join the cooperative agreement, that [cost] is all to be borne by Douglas County. Should you join the cooperative agreement, it’s 50 percent of that.”

Because there are more answering points in Douglas County’s dispatch center, Douglas County will pay 50 percent of the cost and the other half would be shared and split between Todd and Wadena counties.

There’s no cost now to enter into the agreement.

“Should Wadena County’s system go down, we’d be able to answer calls for them. If there were a major incident, we would be able to answer each other’s 911 calls,” Wolbersen said.

Fick also noted, “There are the terrible scenarios like a tornado or something, but what’s more likely ... somebody’s going to get new carpet [in their dispatch center]. Well, that’s no longer a major project with a lot of expense trying to set up a temporary dispatch. You can log off, call over [to a partnering county] and say, ‘Hey, take our calls for a couple hours.’”

Neighboring Stevens, Pope and Grant counties are partnered with one system now.

Wolbersen pointed out that the agreement is not consolidation of dispatch; it’s sharing equipment. Dispatchers will still answer calls full-time in all three counties. 

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

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