We hope Columbiana County's 911 advisory committee's decision to temporarily delay requiring ambulance companies to outfit their vehicles with locator devices does not cause the idea to be lost permanently.
Back in April the committee suggested that Portable AVLs may be required for private ambulance companies if they wanted to participate in the county's 911 system. At that point the 911 committee was told that the portable units would cost $250. Now 911 Director Bob Emmons has revised the estimate to $1,200 per vehicle, which would include installation. Although the increased cost may be more difficult to absorb, it is not prohibitive, and requiring the AVLs still seems like a good idea.
The biggest benefit, of course, would be quicker response times to 911 calls, which could save more lives, but we believe the AVLs would go a long way toward eliminating the bickering involved with competing ambulance companies over whose turn it is to be called to an accident scene. Fire departments which also operate a first responder service should be required to have them as well.
Of course the wireless 911 system that is due to be in place by January may resolve many of the ambulance issues because those calls would go to the closest dispatching center. Currently, most wireless 911 calls go to the sheriff's office, regardless of where they come from. Once wireless 911 is in place, dispatchers would automatically know the identity of the caller and location, which will help dispatchers when choosing the closest ambulance company or first responder.
But if wireless 911 doesn't eliminate these conflicts, the AVL requirement should be revisited.