The ever-growing realization that the community should receive government services based on how we live, not how someone a long time ago drew some lines on a map, has led to an increasing role for county government and for multi-city agencies such as the Unified Police Department and the Unified Fire Authority.
And it is the solid reasoning behind the proposal from Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams that there should be another step taken toward managing vital public services in a way that ignores bureaucratic boundaries and treats the community as the single entity that, in many ways, it is.
The newest plan is to take a windfall of funds the county recently received from the state $1.4 million that had been erroneously allocated to a clutch of area redevelopment agencies and use it to unify the 911 emergency dispatch services for police, fire, EMS and other emergency services in the valley.
The current system is not as much of a crazy quilt as it might be. Basically, there are two 911 systems, one that serves Salt Lake City, Sandy and the UPD, and another that serves everyone else. Neither is thought to be faulty or obsolete, except for the fact that they do not talk to one another.
McAdams' proposal, immediately ratified by a unanimous County Council, is to quickly figure out a way to merge the platforms, or at least make them compatible. Then no one reporting a fire, a crime or a heart attack will ever face the possibility of being routed to a center that cannot help them and having to make another call or be transferred, only to have to explain their situation all over again.
There is an old sheriff's joke about always referring to his emergency call system as 9-1-1, rather than 9-11, because panicked people can freeze up looking for the 11 button on their phone. People in a crisis don't always know what to do. The system should not make it harder than it already is.