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Muskego makes a 911 call of its own in dispatch fight

City passes ordinance to get emergency calls from cellphones

July 16, 2012

Muskego - Tired of 18 months of doors being slammed in its face, the Muskego Common Council last week approved an ordinance requiring all 911 emergency cellphone calls originating in Muskego to go to the Muskego dispatch center.

Currently, landline 911 calls go to local dispatchers, but cellphone 911 calls are answered by dispatchers at the Waukesha County Communications Center, which transfers them to Muskego. The city wants to answer all locally originated 911 to speed up response time that can be critical in medical situations.

Time factor

Muskego estimates the average delay at 72 seconds, but WCC puts it at 42 seconds.

But whether it's 72 or 42 seconds, it's too long, said Muskego Police Chief Paul Geiszler.

Muskego has already upgraded its equipment and training to be the same as at WCC to enable the department to deal with 911 calls, Geiszler said.

However, WCC officials, which refuse to agree to the switchover, maintain that they do a better job because they are busier and have a bigger staff.

Latest in ongoing battle

The city appealed to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission that said the two dispatch centers should work it out. But WCC has been unwilling to meet with Muskego, Geiszler said.

So, Muskego simply passed an ordinance ordering the switchover. Companies that have cellphone towers in Muskego are being notified. Geiszler said the company officials he has already contacted say they are perfectly happy to switch, if they are ordered to do so.

Muskego's action took Richard Tuma, director of WCC and of emergency preparedness for Waukesha County, off guard.

"I was kind of surprised," he said.

In the hands of attorneys?

Tuma also took issue with the statement that WCC officials would not negotiate with Muskego.

"I personally have not been contacted by anybody to meet," he said.

Tuma added that an attorney for Muskego had asked WCC for some information, which it provided.

"I thought the attorneys were working on getting information," he said.

To say that he was unaware that Muskego officials want to speak with him is not true, Geiszler said flatly.

"He's well aware we wanted to resolve this since April 2011," he said.

The reason the city felt it had to take matters into its own hands, Geiszler said, "Is because we're not getting cooperation any other way."

In fact, on Friday, Geiszler said he extended an offer personally to Tuma, who responded that he wanted the attorneys to handle the matter.

And indeed, Muskego's attorney is trying to set up a meeting with the WCC attorney to talk about Muskego also fielding 911 cellphone calls coming from just across Muskego's borders, Geiszler said.

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