Emergency Dispatch for Bay Islands Near at Hand

July 1st, 2010
by Jennifer Mathews

[private] v8-7-News-*199The newly established Rotary Club of Roatan has established, as one of its first tasks, a Public Safety Sub-Committee. The first priority of the committee is to set up a dispatch for *199, the emergency services number, specifically for the Bay Islands.

The emergency number is already the established national number, however dialing *199 currently routes callers to La Ceiba, where their call is answered by a Spanish speaking operator. Several reports have complained of operators simply hanging up when callers say they are calling from one of the Bay Islands.

Formerly a project of the Roatan Crime Watch Committee under the direction of Ilias Scott and Herb Morici, the project came under the guidance of Edward Ake, when the Rotary Club took over Crime Watch activities in April. The Roatan Crime Watch Committee had already made significant progress on such things as importing police cars, radio equipment, printers and establishing a website.

The committee has requested the support of ZOLITUR for funding to maintain permanent staffing of the dispatch center under the security chapter of the entity. The goal is for the center to be operational 24 hours a day, 365 day a year, and be staffed by trained, bilingual operators. The staff will be trained to answer emergency calls and coordinate dispatch of police, fire, and ambulance emergency services throughout the Bay Islands. Dispatchers would also be trained in basic first aid and standard procedures in dealing with crisis situations. The ZOLITUR charter requires that all the Bay Islands are included.

In efforts to raise money for the project, a fundraiser was held on Tuesday, May 4, at the Henry Morgan Resort. Five-time world champion salsa dance team Swing Latino performed to raise support for the purchase of equipment for the emergency service hotline *199. The evening raised more than $1200 for the cause.

Future projects for the Public Safety Sub-Committee include: emergency preparedness in earthquakes and hurricanes, and the improvement of police stations for better quality of life for the policemen.

Long term, the Committee would like to find a new site for the police station that brings together the police, fiscal, and judges under the same roof, thus facilitating better communication throughout all offices.

“I would be proud if this was the first successfully implemented project of the Rotary on the islands,” said Ake. “I would like to thank the authorities, Mayor Julio Galindo, Diputado Romeo Silvestri, and above all, everyone involved with emergency services – police, fire, and ambulance. Commissioner Vides has been particularly helpful in pushing this process through.” [/private]

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