Providence, RI - Rep. Robert Nardolillo III (R-Dist. 28 Coventry) supports improving local emergency dispatch centers to make Rhode Island safer.
The state’s 911 system came under scrutiny in recent months after it was revealed that the majority of funds collected from E-911 fees do not actually go towards the E-911 system. Last year only $5 million of the $17 million collected was allocated for the Rhode Island’s E-911 needs while the rest was transferred to the state’s General Fund.
The diversion of funds has drawn criticism from state and local officials as well as the Federal Communications Commission, but the state’s E-911 facility is not the only one suffering from underfunding. Local dispatch centers operated by Rhode Island municipalities are also dealing with a lack of resources that has made it much more difficult to handle emergencies.
Coventry Fire Chief Frank Brown recently revealed that local dispatchers in his fire district still rely on pen and paper instead of a computerized system when taking down information during an emergency call. He also explained that there are systems available that would allow state dispatchers to transfer information to municipal centers more easily but that many cities and towns simply cannot afford to upgrade. Instead, local dispatchers must ask callers to explain their situation a second time before they are able to send any assistance.
Rep. Nardolillo feels that it is unacceptable for local dispatchers to be using outdated technology saying, “During an emergency every second counts and first responders should have the best equipment on their side. It is unsettling to know that the brave men and women who serve my own community do not have access to systems that have been around for years and must instead work with techniques that are totally obsolete.”
He went on to say, “We know that there is funding available to upgrade these dispatch centers but instead of putting them toward local governments in need they are being dumped into the General Fund. The state must do more to stop this diversion of funds before tragedy strikes. I applaud Chief Brown for bringing this situation to our attention and hope that this is the first step toward ensuring every municipal dispatcher has the tools necessary to keep the public safe.