Since living in Hopewell Borough, I have actually had to call 911. Maybe it wouldn’t have been a 911 call if I had poison control’s number on hand, but who ever thinks they’ll need it? In a panic 911 was about all I could remember as allergy pills lay scattered all over the floor at the feet of my 1.5 year old, who may or may not have ingested one or more of those pills.
But, did I ever stop to wonder where my 911 call was going? Not until now.
For most of Mercer County, it has been “LifeComm” connected with Capital Health Hospital in Hopewell Township, offering emergency dispatch service FOR FREE to Townships of Ewing, Hamilton, Hopewell Boro, Hopewell Township, Lawrence, Pennington Boro, and the City of Trenton. But Capital Health will no longer be providing this service.
The free service was a “unique model…No one in the county or the state has this free from a hospital. We’ve been happy to provide it, but we are now looking more at our core services and will transition to a more common model,” Jayne O’Connor, Capital Health’s spokeswoman, told the Trenton Times.
The once-served municipalities are left to make the decision with whom they will contract for emergency dispatch by July 1st.
Mercer County, for a fee to participating municipalities, is now offering an expanded emergency dispatch through Mercer County Emergency Services Communication Center (“MCESCC”) from its center is located within the Dempster Fire Training Center in Lawrence.
“The ambulance dispatch is a perfect example of what a county service should be. Everyone needs it, and each town needs each other. Working together just makes sense, creates a better service and provides savings for everyone,” Lawrence Township Mayor Cathleen Lewis shared with MercerMe.
The fees for the MSESCC emergency dispatch are based on a pro-rated per-call basis with a 3-year contract. Budgets are estimated based on prior years’ number of emergency calls. Hopewell Borough has a fairly small number of anticipated 911 calls, only approximately 250, as was mentioned at the latest Hopewell Boro Council meeting by Hopewell Boro Mayor Paul Anzano. In larger municipalities, the number of calls is higher and therefore will cost considerable more.
Lawrence Township has already entered into a “shared services agreement” with Mercer County and implemented the change-over in May. Lawrence last year originated 3,121 emergency calls, which is only 5.6% of the 55,709 made countywide, according to the Times article. And, based on last year’s figure, Lawrence will be paying $31,800 yearly to MCESCC.
According to a county announcement, East Windsor, Robbinsville, Princeton and West Windsor will not be using the dispatch service through MSESCC, The Trenton Times reported.