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County 9-1-1 Dispatch Program Discussed

Montgomery County dispatchers have been taking Lower Merion's emergency calls.

After a 90-day trial period, officials are analyzing the effectiveness of 9-1-1 calls being taken by Montgomery County dispatch instead of Lower Merion dispatch.

“Overall, we have not had any situations or concerns of quality of service to callers,” Lower Merion Police Superintendent Michael McGrath told commissioners during a Wednesday evening police committee meeting. “It has been a change for those who frequently call the police department.” 

Commissioner Scott Zelov said he has gotten a few comments from residents who say there are too many questions being asked while they’re used to fewer questions.

“I would caution residents that when dispatchers ask for the spelling of names of businesses and streets, they’re simply verifying correct information,” McGrath said. “That’s not unusual.”

Officials are still analyzing its impact and how to move forward, McGrath said.

Commissioner Brian McGuire said the issue was discussed at a Neighborhood Club of Bala Cynwyd meeting this week. Club member David Haas called the switch "the classic case of government gone haywire."

“I guess my concern is along the lines of familiarity with the area,” McGuire said. “How far along the learning curve are those folks?”

McGrath emphasized Lower Merion officials have trained with county dispatchers and continue to train with them. Anyone calling 9-1-1 not knowing the exact address should describe their surroundings and emergency officials will be able to locate them, McGrath said.

And anyone with non-emergency questions or concerns can reach Lower Merion police at 610-649-1000, he added.

Patch editor Eric Campbell contributed to this report.

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