Archived Story

Fire chiefs concerned with 911 staffing

Published 12:51am Sunday, February 3, 2013

Local firefighters and chiefs are concerned dispatching services in the county may soon be cut, overtaxing an already busy system.

At Thursday’s meeting of the Lawrence County Commissioners, Sheriff Jeff Lawless told commissioners funding three full-time dispatchers and one part-time dispatcher per shift, in addition to a 911 supervisor, would not be within his budgetary limits.

It is possible the 911 center would lose that part-time dispatcher in order to keep the supervisor, but Ironton Fire Chief Tom Runyon said the loss would mean more pressure at peak times for the remaining dispatchers.

“This does put a lot of pressure on the calls, especially during the high call volume times of day when people are traveling back home from work,” Runyon said. “There are larger amounts of auto accidents and things like that in the county, which requires more dispatch activity.”

During peak times, Runyon said it is not unusual to have two or three accidents in the county at the same time. And during those incidents, passersby will call the 911 center, not knowing information has already been relayed.

“The world we live in, it’s not unusual to have an accident on the highway and every other person going by will have a cell phone and be calling the 911 system with information not, knowing what has been transferred by a person prior, so not only are they receiving multiple calls due to the cell phone type of world, but it’s also because of the time of day,” Runyon said.

The high call volume also has the potential to delay other calls of requests for additional equipment or personnel on the scene and even requests for utility companies,” Runyon said.

Runyon said Coal Grove Fire Chief Gary Sherman organized the local department heads and requested a meeting with the sheriff and commissioners, which will be on a future date at the convenience of the commission.

“There is some concern that it is going to be, if that is taking place (losing the dispatcher), it could be more dangerous for the citizens as well as us as responders and limiting our ability to talk with dispatch,” Runyon said.


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