Emergency call conflict: OB Town Council invites SD fire chief and lifeguard union leader to forum
Published - 04/24/17 - 03:24 PM | 2305 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Ocean Beach Town Council has invited San Diego Fire Department Chief Brian Fennessy and Ed Harris, leader of the San Diego Lifeguard Union, to the 7 p.m. April 26 meeting, at the Masonic Center, 1711 Sunset Cliffs Blvd., to speak on a recent policy change in the way that water distress calls are handled by the city.

Jeff Hatfield, former lifeguard president, longtime Ocean Beach resident, and lifeguard dispatcher will also sit on the panel.

As the city heads into the summer months, the goal of all public agencies is to keep residents and visitors safe at San Diego beaches, bays, and waterways. The new emergency procedure, which was implemented by the SDFD chief on Dec. 15, 2016, routes water distress calls not directly to the lifeguards, but first through 911 dispatch, and then to fire dispatch, before being transferred to the lifeguard unit. San Diego lifeguards contend that the change adds an unnecessary step, slowing down the lifeguards' emergency response time.

Ed Harris stated: “Distressed persons witnessing a water emergency must now wait until their call is sent to all three emergency dispatch centers before a radio call is made to the only people who can help them. The change sends the call from police dispatch to fire dispatch.

“Fire logs it in the computer and then notifies Lifeguard dispatch who finally makes a radio call to the nearest lifeguard. Each time a call is sent to a dispatch center, there is a delay. The Fire Chief has added a step that does not need to be added,” Harris said.

The meeting will be dedicated in part to fostering a dialogue in regards to this important public safety issue. For more information, please contact the OBTC via email at info@obtowncouncil.org.

The object and purpose of the Ocean Beach Town Council is to express the will and represent the welfare of the community of Ocean Beach by providing a forum for the discussion of community issues, communicating the views and needs of the community to the appropriate agencies, and promoting the general betterment and beautification of Ocean Beach.

The OBTC hosts public meetings on the fourth Wednesday every month except November and December. Regular speakers include local leaders, political, business and law enforcement representatives, as well as members from all corners of the Ocean Beach community.
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