by Bob Pepalis / Appen Newspapers
ALPHARETTA -- An agreement for Alpharetta to dispatch Milton's police and firefighters will improve response times to emergency in "problem areas" in both cities, Alpharetta Public Safety Director Gary George told City Council Monday night. An agreement between the cities was discussed at a council workshop held at the city's new Command & Control Center being built within police headquarters.When someone in Milton calls 911, Fulton County answers. But once the call is answered, there's no guarantee it will be dispatched properly. George told a story about a 911 call made with a cell phone from Alpharetta's North Park that was mis-routed by the Fulton dispatcher, who didn't recognize North Park's name. The call was transferred to Cobb and then to Gwinnett before finally being routed to Alpharetta.The cities have an automatic mutual aid agreement between fire departments. Milton can respond to North Park, Kings Ridge Christian School and Crabapple faster than Alpharetta."Milton can beat us there any time of day, three or four minutes quicker," George said. The trade off comes in the Bethany and Mayfield areas of Milton."We can help them probably 50 percent of the time get to their calls better," he said. "It's all about time, getting that first responder there."
Legislation creating the city required Fulton provide Milton's dispatching needs for up to two years. In exchange, Fulton has kept the $1.50 per cellphone and house phone paid by Milton's residents to offset those costs. The two years ends Dec. 31.There is urgency to making the agreement, as ending the arrangement with Fulton County requires 90 days' notice. For a proposed change starting Oct. 1, the notice must be made by Aug. 1."Quite honestly at the end of the day it would be a win-win for all the citizens," George said.Each city's fire departments will still respond to the emergency calls, handling all reports. Routine police calls will only be answered by respective cities' police.
Both cities have ladder trucks than can be positioned to cover the largest area for both cities. Since Milton parks its ladder truck at its city hall off Deerfield Parkway, Alpharetta could move its ladder truck to its station 3, closer to North Point Mall, the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre and those areas of Alpharetta.Georgie reminded council that two weeks earlier they had approved an agreement that gives Alpharetta control of dispatching Rural Metro's six ambulances in North Fulton. Monitors in the new Command & Control center will show the location of every Alpharetta and Milton police and fire vehicle, plus all of Rural Metro's ambulances. GPS transponders will be installed in all emergency vehicles.