Lawton representative discusses rural VFD dispatch problems, solutions

Lawton representative discusses rural VFD dispatch problems, solutions 

LAWTON, Okla. – A Lawton representative is tackling an issue with how rural volunteer fire departments are dispatched to emergencies that are in a different county but may just be a few miles up the road.

Representative Trey Caldwell says even if you live near a fire station, with the way our dispatch system works if you call 911 to report a fire, that station may not be the one who gets the call.

“For Chattanooga for example, it’s right there on the county line. It’s a quarter of a mile from Tillman County and it’s a mile from Cotton County. If someone lives three miles south of that fire station in Cotton County do we need to send Walters Volunteer Fire Department 35-40 minute drive to get there or do we send someone who can get there in 3 minutes. It’s pretty common sense. Imaginary lines on a map shouldn’t dictate who we should call, it should be the fire department that is the most qualified and the closest to the incident,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell recently met with emergency managers, fire departments and county commissioners from across the state with the hope of pointing out this problem and finding a way to fix it.

“We wanted to get everybody in the room and say these are the issues how do we fix them. Y’all can fix them, let’s find a commonsense solution, or we’ll write legislation and fix them. At the end of the day, the constituent, the citizen of Oklahoma is the top priority,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell said there are several potential solutions to the problem, such as better pay and higher quality training for dispatchers. He said he’s hopeful everyone will work together to figure out the best possible solution and get it into action as quickly as possible.

“We want to make sure we get the first responders where they need to be the quickest and the most ergonomic way so they can do what they’re trained and what they’re professionals at and that is helping people,” Caldwell said.

Related posts