NAPPANEE — Dispatchers in Nappanee will answer 911 calls for the last time next week.
After Monday, all emergency calls coming from the city will be picked up by dispatchers at the Elkhart County 911 Center in Goshen. The consolidation was ordered because of a state law that will limit counties to two dispatch centers after 2014. The 911 center in Nappanee will become an unstaffed backup station beginning in January.
Since the switchover began earlier this month, the county’s dispatch center is a little busier now but not overwhelmed, according to county 911 center assistant director Todd Anderson.
“With the exception of the city of Elkhart, we already take care of the rest of the county, which has a couple hundred thousand people in it,” Anderson said, adding that the county’s center answers all 911 calls from cell phones and dispatches for 37 police, fire and ambulance agencies, including three added from Nappanee.
Anderson estimated that the 911 center in Goshen has a staff of 26 people, including 22 dispatchers. On average, there are about five dispatchers on duty at a time, he said.
Nappanee’s 911 center has three full-time dispatchers who will be stationed there until the end of the year, according to city police chief Julie Dijkstra. One dispatcher will continue to answer calls at the police department, and the other two will no longer be city employees, she said.
Anderson does not foresee delays in response times to emergencies.
“It doesn’t matter where their call goes to,” he said. “Just because their call comes here doesn’t mean it would take a minute longer to get here than it would to get to someone in Nappanee. It doesn’t matter if you’re calling someone next door or if you’re calling California, it’s going to ring the same amount of times, so there’s no delay there, so that should rest peoples’ minds.”