Marathon Co. hires consulting firm to fix dispatch problems - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Marathon Co. hires consulting firm to fix dispatch problems

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MARATHON COUNTY (WAOW) -

Volunteer firefighters depend on pagers to let them know when there's an emergency.

"We do rely on paid, on-call staff and volunteers on the fire side of our department. So, they may be at home, they may be at work, they may be out in the community," said Mosinee Fire Chief Josh Klug.

When pagers go off, firefighters sometimes hear garbled information, and other times, the pagers don't go off at all. This costs them precious minutes during an emergency.

"If their pager doesn't trip, and they don't get the call, we're short staffed, and by the time we get down here, we don't know that, and we have to call for extra people," said Tom Janssen, a volunteer firefighter in Mosinee.

The problem began in September when the county switched from an analog dispatch system to a combination analog-digital system. The switch was required by law and cost $9.5 million.

Marathon County Administrator Brad Karger said the county is now spending $50,000 to research the problems.

"If we have a pattern emerging, that is taken very seriously because, in fact, these people perform life saving services," said Karger.

Karger said the problems have been concentrated in the Mosinee and Athens areas. County officials have hired a consulting firm to try to fix what's wrong.

"We want somebody who doesn't have a dog in that fight to take a look at it for us. If nothing else, to assure us that we've gotten everything we've paid for," said Karger.

The county has asked fire chiefs to track problems with pagers in their departments.

The Mosinee Fire Chief said no emergency calls have been missed, but it's an issue that deserves immediate attention.

Marathon County officials said the consulting firm's recommendations should be ready within 60 days.

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