Barrar Calls on Corbett to Reconsider Emergency Towing Pilot Program
6/19/2014
HARRISBURG – On Wednesday, the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee advanced legislation sponsored by Rep. Steve Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware), chairman of the committee, which calls on Gov. Tom Corbett to re-examine a Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) pilot program for third-party emergency dispatch services.

Last fall, the PSP entered into a contract with Auto Return, a California company, to dispatch emergency towing and recovery operators to accident scenes in the northwest region of Pennsylvania. In May, Barrar held a committee hearing on the pilot program after members of the Pennsylvania Towing Association (PTA) claimed the PSP shut them out of the process – ignoring their requests for information about the proposed pilot program and refusing to hear their concerns.

“There is nothing more troubling to me than the fact that the towers were left out of the process and were not given a voice in the decision to move forward with this program,” said Barrar. “Towers are crucial partners in our emergency services network and their input is essential.”

PTA members said that the third-party contract relieves the state police of its responsibility to dispatch towing companies and address complaints, and it enables them to avoid being sued if something goes wrong or a tower challenges a PSP decision to remove them from the list of approved towers. The PTA testified that many of its members are reluctant to sign on with the pilot program vendor out of concern, among others, for the lower standards required under the contract.

A number of other issues were raised at last month’s hearing including the logistics associated with having an out-of-state firm dispatching emergency services to accident scenes in Pennsylvania, and concerns about hiring towing companies with no prior experience with emergency towing and recovery.

"House Resolution 901 calls on Gov. Corbett to re-examine the pilot program and consider utilizing county 911 dispatch centers to take on this additional dispatching responsibility,” said Barrar. “County 911 centers currently dispatch fire, police and EMS services across the Commonwealth.

“Further, my resolution requests the governor establish a select committee, comprised of representatives from the PSP, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, county 911 dispatchers, the PTA, the Towing Recovery Association of America, the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors and the Pennsylvania State Boroughs.”

The resolution now goes to the full House.

Representative Stephen E. Barrar
160th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Donna Pinkham
717.260.6452
dpinkham@pahousegop.com  
SteveBarrar.com / Facebook.com/RepBarrar
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