By GLORIA PLEVA KACIK
Strongsville Mayor Tom Perciak and North Royalton Mayor Bob Stefanik co-hosted a grand opening of the Southwest Emergency Dispatch Center (SWEDC) on Thursday, July 10. This was the next step in the joining of North Royalton’s dispatch with Strongsville’s dispatch center.
The new location of the joint dispatch is now Communication and Technology Building, 13213 Pearl Road, which was once the old Strongsville Public Library. The result of the new center has been ten years in the making, according to Strongsville Service Director, Charles Goss. “When the new Strongsville library was built, Perciak decided to make the old building a technology center and did deep improvements then. We knew the regional dispatch would be coming in earnest,” said Goss. The fiber optic cabling was established in 2013, when the radio system from Cleveland was updated and cities merged with the Cleveland radio system.
On March 22, the complete transformation took place of the city of North Royalton’s Public Safety Dispatch, when they were consolidated with the city of Strongsville. The joining of the dispatch for these two cities is a first in the southwest region of Cuyahoga County. Since the merge of the two cities, the dispatch center takes more calls than any other in Cuyahoga County, other than Cleveland. Strongsville projects that they will receive about 50,000 calls yearly, according to Perciak. With the new SWEDC, the new location can “easily handle another five cities, or up to 420,000 businesses and residents,” according to the Strongsville IT Director, John Bedford. He noted that with the new system, “we can provide information for medical, police, hazmat and CERT.” At this time, there is no other city in negotiations to join, according to Perciak, but there is a lot of interest.
All 911 calls continue to go to the Communication Electronic Command (CECOM) Center, who then directs the calls to the appropriate jurisdiction. In this case, all calls from North Royalton will now go to SWEDC. The new agreement does not change that process and North Royalton residents will see no change when they call 911. One change they may see, depending on the call, is that the dispatcher would be trained as an Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD) which allows them to give the caller medical instructions while they wait for emergency services to arrive. “This provides a whole new level of service to residents,” said North Royalton Police Chief John Elek. “The technological aspect is huge. It’s a big step up from what we had.” According to the city’s website, “residents can continue to utilize the emergency number 440-237-8686 and it will be answered in Strongsville. For non-life threatening emergencies for the Fire Department residents can continue to use the 440-237-4315.”
The North Royalton Police Department continues to maintain staff on duty every day, 24 hours a day, at the Police Department lobby office, for routine police business, such as police reports, records requests and complaints.