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Volunteers protest county dispatch closures

TONOPAH — Patty Winters read a statement on behalf of volunteer ambulance personnel from Beatty, Tonopah and Gabbs, under public comment Tuesday, asking county commissioners to hold off on closing the northern dispatch centers until the emergency radio system is proven.

County Commission Chairman Dan Schinhofen said he asked County Manager Pam Webster to issue a statement about the changes, which will lay off six dispatchers and close the Tonopah dispatch center starting May 1 except during business hours. Beatty’s jail will also reportedly close. Emergency dispatch will be operated out of Pahrump.

“We are concerned about the ability to page both ambulance and fire. We know a test was done. A test done on one day doesn’t really tell us it’s reliable. We have concerns about security in businesses within these communities. We have concerns about Life Alerts for our senior citizens. We’re not sure how this is going to all pan out. The phone system, with the 911 system, we don’t believe that’s been tested sufficiently and we do not believe that will give us the Enhanced 911 system that we pay taxes on frankly,” Winter said.

“We also are concerned about the radios, both the mobiles, the hand sets, how will those work over that distance and how that will work and will that be consistent in times of disaster and in times of tricky calls,” she asked. “We don’t believe that the communications will hold true for a variety of reasons. one is the infrastructure in the system, secondly is the amount of traffic that will be going into the Pahrump dispatch center. We’re concerned about the response times, which already can be delayed. We cover a lot of geographical area up here and we are concerned that the lack of an ability to page will increase our response time. We know that as a county we don’t really have much of a backup system, so in times of crisis we don’t have a secondary way to communicate.”

Winters said they are also worried about retaining volunteers, noting Nye County has a fragile system of emergency response in rural areas like other counties across the nation.

“We are concerned that this lack of ability to page, the lateness of our arrival, will weigh heavily on our volunteers which can increase the amount of turnover that we see,” she said. “We feel that this again is a matter of public safety. It is the community’s law enforcement, ambulance and fire. We know you cannot control what is happening but we ask that you weigh in heavily on the closure of these dispatch centers until they are proven, until we know they are going to work and until we know that they will work consistently we hope you will at least hear our voices and act accordingly.”

Round Mountain Town Manager Dan Sweeney complained about the proposal at the April 1 meeting. The Beatty Town Advisory Board sent a letter to county officials complaining about a lack of communication on the plan.

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