CRYSTAL FALLS, Mich. (WZMQ) – Iron County’s Central 911 Dispatch will stay within the county, despite a motion that was proposed by the County Commission to consider outsourcing the service. The news was announced at a packed commission meeting this morning, where concerned community members gathered to voice their opinions.
The decision to outsource the county’s 911 dispatch had stemmed from worries about losing a contract with Gogebic County, and the subsequent impact it would have on Iron County’s revenue. However, the potential loss of a local dispatch service raised concerns among residents about the efficiency and effectiveness of an outsourced system that wouldn’t have intimate knowledge of the local landscape.
“They’re going to say what they’re familiar with, how they give directions to their friends, and people who are familiar. And if you’re not familiar, you’re not going to know what they’re talking about. It’s not going to come up on GPS, you’re not gonna google it, but I know exactly where it is,” emphasized Kirsten Kapusta, an Iron County Central Dispatcher who attended this morning’s meeting.
Kapusta, who had been worried about the implications of outsourcing on her job and her family, expressed relief after the commission meeting.
“I feel incredibly relieved,” she shared after the commission meeting was adjourned. “My concerns were not only for my job, which I do want to keep. But, my family lives here. My elderly parents live here. They live on a half-mile long dead-end road that’s labeled incorrectly in a county plat book. It doesn’t show up correctly on any map. We have had to call the ambulance, they have had to use GPS, and they have ended up in the wrong place,” added Kapusta.
She shared, “I understand when seconds count, and where things are. And how important it is to have people that not only know that, but understand what the callers are saying when they say I’m by the big water tower. Or by the old west wood.”
While the decision to keep Iron County’s Central Dispatch within the county is a victory for local residents, the County Board still faces concerns over economic constraints on the local dispatch system. Commissioners are hopeful that residents will pass the millage renewal that will be on the February ballot, which would provide the necessary funds to maintain and improve the dispatch services.
Emergency services in Iron County will continue to be handled by those who possess the local knowledge necessary to ensure residents’ safety. The upcoming millage renewal will be a crucial factor in ensuring the long-term sustainability of the dispatch system and the well-being of the community it serves.