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Workshop Of 911 Board On Jurisdiction Decisions

Rickey Stokes

Viewed: 919

Posted by: cannon
Date: Jul 09 2019 5:10 PM

 DOTHAN - HOUSTON COUNTY:   The City of Dothan - Houston County Communications District Board met today for a special called workshop meeting. The meeting was called by Board Chairman Steve Parrish.

The meeting’s purpose was “discussion of the discussion of dispatch services and jurisdictional for EMS providers in our district.”

This meeting was as a direct result of a 7 page letter written by Houston County Attorney Press Register in reference to EMS and Fire Service Resolution dated January 9, 2019.

There was a meeting  on May 13, 2019 between Press Register, Houston County Commission Chairman Mark Culver, 911 Chairman of the Board Steve Parrish and 911 Director Holly Brittan concerning Mr. Register’s 7 page letter explaining of how Houston County was in violation of the law in setting guidelines for response to EMS calls.

Today’s work session was specifically related to “who is responsible for the Emergency Medical Services in Houston County.”

The E911 Director Holly Brittan brought in Attorney  Mark Ryan who has been practicing law for 24 years. He told the Board about 23 of those years has been in the practice of 911, writing legislation and defending civil litigation matters.

All members of the 911 Board were present with the exception of Houston County Sheriff Chief Deputy Jeff Carlisle.

The Attorney explained several avenues of service and also discussed several restrictions on how 911 funds could be spent. The Attorney explained that the tarriff’s ( 911 fees) could not be spent on routine dispatch services.

It was apparent the attorney did not know how the City of Dothan – Houston County Communications District was established. Alabama Law provides four ways 911 dispatch centers can be estalished.

Under Code of Alabama 11-98-11  METHODS OF RESPONSE TO EMERGENCY CALLS.   The City of Dothan - Houston County Communications District system operates under Code of Alabama 11-98-11(a)(2) “Transfer method, which is a telephone service receives telephone requests for emergency services and directly transfers such requests to an appropriate public safety agency or other provider of emergency service”.

It’s easier to understand language, a person dials 911, the computer looks at where 911 call is at and directs the call to the Dothan Police Department or Houston County Sheriff Department. The dispatch then falls onto the Dothan Police Department which is under the command of Chief Steve Parrish or Houston County Sheriff Department which is under the control of Sheriff Donald Valenza.

The City of Dothan – Houston Communications District Board only employees three people. The Board does not employ and dispatchers at all and handles no dispatch services.

The dispatch of the 911 Emergency Call  is the responsibility of Dothan Police Chief or Houston County Sheriff.

The Alabama Statue defines 911 as “receiving, transmitting and dispatching” of emergency 911 calls. There was discussion of the “dispatching”.

There was discussion that policies and memorandum of understandings and contracts need to be in place between the City of Dothan – Houston County Communications District Board and the dispatch entities, Dothan Police and Houston County Sheriff Department.

There was discussion that contracts need to be in place with the Volunteer Fire and EMS throughout the county who will be responding to calls. And some discussion that in those contracts some parameters that agencies must meet in order to be dispatched.

The Code of Alabama does not spell out “who” in particular is responsible for that. It was clearly explained that the City of Dothan – Houston County Communications District Board was not responsible for those contracts and mutual aid agreements.

And while the Houston County Sheriff Department was the “dispatch” entity for the 911 calls, they were  not responsible for the contracts and mutual aid agreements.

The ending conclusion: ( 1 ) it is not the role or responsibility of the City of Dothan – Houston County Communications District Board to establish response contracts for emergency calls. ( 2 ) The Sheriff has no authority to enter into contracts for services for emergency response ( 3 ) The City of Dothan – Houston County 911 Board has no authority to set boundry lines for response to emergency calls ( 4 ) The Houston County Commission is the agency of responsibility for the contractual agreements and the setting of boundry  lines for response to emergency calls..

There must be agreements and contractual agreements in place for the agencies of which are not government agencies to respond.

A contractual agreement with a for profit ambulance service is required to be bid out.

The City of Dothan – Houston County Communications District Board can set minimum qualifications and requirements. However if a EMS Service provider is approved by the State of Alabama, there should be great documentation as to why they are denied.

FINAL CONCLUSION:    It is the responsibility of the Houston County Commission.  

The EMS group has started an Association to manage the EMS. The Houston County Volunteer Fire Departments already have a Association.

In Houston County, the 17 Volunteer Fire Departments, 5 Volunteer Emergency Medical Services, Pilcher Ambulance and Headland Rescue, respond to over 7,200 calls per year. This is accomplished for less than 1 million dollars per year. 

The volume of the Houston County Emergency Response units is about 49% of the volume of the Dothan Fire Department. They operate on a $ 14 million dollar budget and 175 employees.

Your City of Dothan - Houston County Communications Center's emergency operation is functioning well and great services are being provided to the public of Dothan and Houston County, and guests. The purpose of the discussion is on improving the services and quality of services provided.

Without discussion you  can not improve those services. 



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