Although it was scheduled for completion in the middle of January, the first independent audit of the Dane County 911 Center is taking longer than anticipated, with no specified date for release.
According to John Hendrick, first vice chair of the Dane County Board, after the death of University of Wisconsin junior Brittany Zimmermann, he proposed that an independent, third-party program, Matrix Consulting Group, audit the 911 Center.
“I made the original proposal for the objective program audit because I was receiving complaints and the 911 Center had never been audited,” Hendrick said in an e-mail to The Badger Herald.
Citizens’ concerns with the 911 Center were sparked by the death of Zimmermann, who was slain in her apartment on West Doty Street last April. A call placed to the 911 Center on Zimmermann’s cell phone was mishandled by the dispatcher on duty.
In 2004, the 911 Center underwent a strategic planning exercise conducted by the Madison Fire Department and Madison Police Department, according to Hendrick.
In an e-mail to The Badger Herald, Dane County Board Chair Scott McDonell said the board asked Matrix to break down the audit into two parts. The first part was on space and personnel, which was completed by October in time for budget deliberations.
The recommendation was to add three additional dispatchers to the six new dispatchers already included in the county’s executive budget, and the board complied.
The second half of the audit covers the programming aspects and training procedures of the center. According to McDonell, the second part of the audit was due in January but has been delayed due to staff issues at the consulting firm.
“We expect that part within the next week or two at the latest,” McDonell said in the e-mail. “They did a good job on the first half of the audit, but the delay is frustrating.”
Josh Wescott, spokesperson for Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, said he is uncertain why the audit is late and was unsure whether or not the auditor had other work to complete.
Dane County Supervisor Melanie Hampton, District 14, said initially, the cost of the audit was about $60,000; however, after budget deliberations, extra funds were allotted toward the audit.
The contract with Matrix is now $87,900, according to Hendrick.
However, Dane County Supervisor Eileen Bruskewitz, District 25, said she is not sure the 911 Center needs an audit.
She added she thought it was a good idea to have a strategic plan written for the 911 Center but said Falk essentially ignored the advice given.
Wescott said an enormous amount of work was done after the 2004 strategic plan was released, including the implementation of streamlined dispatching protocols, allowing for the nearest respnders to be dispatched despite jurisdiction.
When the 911 Center receives a call, dispatchers are able to walk the caller through the problem they are experiencing until priority medical, fire or police are dispatched. Dispatchers are also able to give medical guidance over the phone.
The second part of the audit is expected to be released sometime within the next two weeks.