Back in the “good old days,” the Oologah Police Department was making statewide headlines as the Town Board tried to get rid of the chief.
Actually, it got rid of several chiefs.
It had its own dispatcher.
Talala didn’t have a police department then, so it and the unincorporated county were protected by the Sheriff’s office.
There was an ambulance service, or maybe two. It’s hard to remember because the service was so spotty, and we’re not sure who handled dispatch.
The Northwest Fire district was just getting started. It had three stations—a shed on a private acreage near Sageeyah, an abandoned building in Talala and a metal building in Oologah.
It had its own dispatching—in the daytime working from a trailer that doubled as an office and at night from home—often awakened by a dispatch phone on the bedside table.
Today, Oologah and Talala both have first-rate police departments. The District Attorney’s office is especially complimentary about Oologah police reports.
The two departments share a dispatcher, located in Chelsea.
The entire Oologah school district and the areas nearby have a first-rate ambulance service. Northwest is now the envy of fire districts across the state, with three modern stations, top-notch equipment, paid firefighters with the highest level of training and a cadre of volunteers who any department would kill to have on their rosters.
They share a dispatch service, which is located in Owasso.
The Sheriff’s office is the 911 answering point and also dispatches the Sheriff’s office as well as the Verdigris Police department. (The town didn’t exist in the good old days, let alone have a police department.)
That dispatch center gets the initial 911 calls and all sorts of information on its screens, but the best it can do is transfer the voice to one other dispatch center. The information stays where it started.
So we’ve worked wonders in the field. Great police departments, great fire department, great Sheriff’s office, great ambulance service—and a dispatch system that would be right at home in the days when fire engines were drawn by horses and ambulances doubled as hearses.
As taxpayers, we voted to build a centralized 911 dispatch system to serve the entire county.
We’re paying for excellent service and getting it from our emergency service agencies.
We’re paying for excellent 911 service and still not getting it.
All the people involved in getting 911 off the ground are public servants. We have a 911 director who is up to the job and ready and willing to provide excellent service.
But far too many of the cities, towns, districts and agencies are protecting parochial interests rather than the public at large.
We’ve been lucky so far. Unlike Delaware County, nobody has died—yet—because of the 911 fiasco. But that luck won’t hold.
And we promise, when the lucky streak ends, it won’t be just one office holder with a lot of explaining to do for an enraged public armed with torches and pitchforks.
It will be all those who haven’t been willing to really work together and make central 911 dispatching a reality. We’ll be leading the charge.