Village transfers emergency calls to county

By 4-2 vote, board decides to transfer Grafton’s EMD service to Ozaukee dispatch center this spring
Ozaukee Press Staff

Starting in May, the Village of Grafton will have its emergency calls handled by Ozaukee County’s dispatch center after the Village Board approved the transfer of call-handling responsibilities on Monday.

The move comes after Aurora Health Care requested in February that the village enter into a mutual termination agreement, which will leave the village without a medical director for its Emergency Medical Dispatch program. The program provides dispatchers with a series of questions to determine the appropriate level of response in a medical emergency. 

Without a licensed medical director, the village would be liable for any medical instructions given during emergency calls.

Last month, the Village Board weighed its options for finding a medical director to continue the use of EMD, but tabled a decision to allow for more time to research alternative plans.

One of the options included using Columbia St. Mary’s Ozaukee Hospital in Mequon, but officials from the hospital said it does not have enough capacity to provide medical direction for the village. 

The only other viable option was to transfer call handling services to Ozaukee County’s Sheriff’s Department, which the Town of Grafton moved its calls to last December.

During Monday’s meeting, the Village Board voted 4-2 to partner with the county’s dispatch center. Voting in favor were Village President Jim Brunnquell and trustees Tom Krueger, David Antoine and Lisa Uribe Harbeck. Trustees David Liss and Sue Meinecke dissented, and Trustee Dean Proefrock was not present.

Meinecke asked to table Monday’s vote, noting the April 3 election could change the makeup of the board, but Brunnquell said the current board was best prepared to make the decision. 

“The people (trustees) who are up here are people the village has elected to represent them,” Brunnquell said to more than 70 residents present at the meeting.

“That is what is going to be shown in the polls. If you believe what we’re doing is correct, you can affirm our decision. If you don’t, then our time has come.”

During the meeting, a number of residents spoke about their concerns with transferring emergency calls to the county, which included reducing hours of operation of the Grafton police station that is currently open 24/7.

According to Brunnquell, a decision on reduced hours would have to be first made by the Finance or Public Safety committees before being taken up by the Village Board.

Other residents said they were worried there could be a delay in transferring non-medical emergency calls to Grafton’s dispatch center.

During the meeting, Sheriff Jim Johnson said he didn’t expect any delays in transferring calls, noting all cell-phone 911 calls — which makeup about half of those in his department — are automatically taken by the county’s dispatch center.

Johnson said the county will need to hire three more dispatchers to handle the additional calls. That’s because by the end of this year, the county will be answering all types of calls for the village, including non-medical emergency contacts. 

According to Village Administrator Jesse Thyes, the extra dispatchers will minimally increase the county’s tax levy, but the village’s tax levy will have to be reduced because it will no longer provide dispatching services.

Last weekend, several flyers circulated around the village regarding Monday’s vote. One of them alleged that there is a conflict of interest for Harbeck because she works for Aurora.

During the meeting, her husband Bill Harbeck, said his wife is an oncology nurse at Aurora’s Glendale campus and has no financial interest at stake with the outcome of the Village Board vote.




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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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