The 2022-23 year-end report for the Winneshiek County 911 Communications Center was recently released, reporting an across-the-board increase in the number of calls made, managed and services directed by the 911 Dispatch. 911 calls saw an increase of 17 percent, totaling 4,668, even after removing 908 “accidental 911 calls” – a new line item in this year’s report.
Total calls for service was 13,914, an increase of five percent, with County Law Enforcement calls increasing four percent to 13,054, with 42 percent going to Decorah Police Department, three percent going to Calmar Police Department and 56 percent going to the Winneshiek County Sheriff’s Office. The Winneshiek County Sheriff’s Office assists Calmar law enforcement through a 28E agreement for service.
There were 337 calls to the Fire Department, 2,262 calls for Ambulance/EMS showing a 10 percent increase, and 64 calls to Emergency Management eight calls more than the previous year.
Between calls made by dispatch and all other calls coming in, they saw 42,696 calls in their fiscal year – an average of just shy of 117 phone calls every single day.
Winneshiek County Emergency Management Coordinator Sean Snyder stated, “The number of phone calls can fluctuate greatly from month to month. For example, a snowy winter month or stormy summer month can greatly increase the dispatcher’s call load with callers reporting vehicle accidents, spring flooding and summer storm damage to name a few examples.”
The 911 dispatch coordinates with seven fire departments in the county for service: Decorah, Calmar, Ossian, Ridgeway, Fort Atkinson, Frankville and Castalia, as well as eight out of area Fire Departments, including Harmony, Canton, Mabel and Spring Grove in Minnesota, and Cresco, Protivin, Waucoma and St. Lucas Fire Departments.
Of the 2,262 ambulance calls, Frankville Ambulance received 16, Ossian Ambulance received 72, Winneshiek County First Responders received 481 and WinnMed responded to 1,693 calls for service.
911 Dispatch also coordinated services with six out of area responders; Harmony, Mabel and Spring Grove, Minn., Ambulances, Regional Health Services of Cresco Ambulance, Gundersen Tri-state Ambulance of West Union, and Postville Ambulance.
Synder said, “Winneshiek County 911 Communications Center will continue to build upon its partnerships with all local area emergency responders. Most of the new dispatch center furniture has been installed… We are in the process of installing a Minnesota ARMER consolette inside the communications center to give our communications center the ability to go “direct” via radio transmissions with our neighboring Minnesota counties’ Public Safety Answering Point. We will continue to train and educate our staff to all industry recognized best practices. We will continue to strive to be the best communications center in the state of Iowa.”
Luckily, Winneshiek County has great emergency responders to assist with the growing needs of the county and impact, if not save, countless lives each and every year.