CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The towns of Apex, Morrisville and Cary officially merged their 911 operations Tuesday, ending a sometimes confusing and frustrating sequence of answering calls and dispatching emergency services.
"We recognize that the quicker we can get to an emergency the better the chances are for a favorable outcome," Todd Wright, Assistant Town Manager for the City of Morrisville, told ABC11. "For our citizens this is seamless. All they have to do is call 911. That's not going to change."
Indeed, what will change is who picks up the phone: the Cary Communications Center will now be in charge of answering calls from those dialing 911 in any of the three towns; both Morrisville and Apex previously used the Raleigh-Wake Emergency Communications Center for emergency-call response and dispatch.
"Often times we're going to the same emergency," Wright explained. "We're talking about hundreds of times a year and we're duplicating resources."
Tuesday's switch is the culmination of a multi-year effort and negotiation between the Wake County municipalities.
In January, the Town of Apex approved the interlocal agreement, which revealed several of the challenges that arose from the Town's experience in Raleigh, including "disjointed communication" and "ineffective coordination." In fact, the report acknowledges "due to delays in dispatching, it is common for Cary to arrive on a scene located in Morrisville or Apex, prior to those Towns' fire departments."
For other instances, such as crashes on I-40, some 10-12 emergency vehicles could be dispatched from Raleigh, Cary, Wake and Durham counties.
"If someone calls and they're closer to Cary and they're in the Morrisville response area -- that call would have to be routed to Raleigh," Morrisville Police Chief Patrice Andrews told ABC11. "There's a delay there. For us, especially as Morrisville continues to grow, our priorities we want to improve. Seconds matter in any emergency or response even something like a traffic accident it really does matter."
Despite consolidating 911 operations, the three towns will still maintain their own roles in emergency safety, fire and rescue services to their respective residents.
In a release sent to ABC11, Morrisville administrators note the non-emergency number for Morrisville has changed to (919) 469-4012, and businesses and homeowners using alarm services do not need to take action as alarm services companies have already been notified of the switch to Cary Communications Center for emergency call response.