, Salem, MA

Local News

October 15, 2013

Dispatching issue exposes growing pains at RECC


A dispatcher named Stephanie Brown was reportedly on the wrong frequency when a fire alarm call came in from Richardson’s Dairy on South Main Street (Route 114), Pratt said. Brown was previously a dispatch supervisor at the University of Georgia, Pratt said. She has had 240 hours of training and she was working with an experienced dispatcher at the time of the incident. She has been working at the center since Sept. 2.

“Our dispatcher was on the wrong frequency; she called for the location and she announced for Middleton Fire Department to respond. She did that on the Wenham Fire Department frequency,” Pratt said. Wenham received a voice announcement from Brown.

In listening to a replay of the call, Pratt said the dispatcher stated the fire alarm was in Middleton.

“She actually said, ‘Middleton Fire Department, you have an alarm at such and such [location],’” Pratt said.

There was no fire, and the alarm was a result of “a faulty device.” The tone automatically went out to the Middleton Fire Department radio system “so there was no lapse or delay of response or service,” Pratt said. “That is critical, critical.”

“This was a very correctable error,” Pratt said. “That being said, Stephanie has received counseling on this issue, and she is going to be retrained on this issue ... It was human error, a correctable error, with no repercussion.”

The dispatch center presently employs 16 regular dispatchers, while 28 are in training. All of them are state-certified, Pratt said.

Middleton police are also taking their time to cut over to the regional communications center.

“We are on a track to start in November,” said Middleton police Chief James DiGianvittorio, who said the Fire Department “took a step backward” while the center installs a new software system. DiGianvittorio said there were “a few issues” with the switch to the center, but he did not elaborate.

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