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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, July 20, 2017

911 Dispatcher: It's Not the TVs, It's the Morale

My recent story about NorCo 911 operators who watch television on the job sparked a lot of interest, most of it coming from dispatchers who defend the practice. I have also had several conversations with current and former dispatchers. This is what they tell me.

* The problem at the 911 Center is not the TVs, but morale."Morale is awful," one dispatcher tells me.

* The number of dispatchers who work a shift is set by PEMA, and there's no such thing as reducing the staff when activity slows down. At this time of the year, dispatchers are busy. But on winter nights, when it is 17 degrees, the 911 center can sit for hours without getting a call. "What are we supposed to do, stare at a wall?" one former dispatcher asked me.

*  911 Dispatchers could use down time to update CAD. "How is someone from Illinois going to know the address of the Marriott hotel at which he is staying?" one asked me. Another ex-operator told me there are numerous properties like that along Delaware Drive, which winds its way from Williams Tp and north into the slate belt.  An operator was instructed to contact a towing company she know has been out of business for several years.She has suggested that 911 take a proactive approach to businesses moving into the area, making sure the correct addresses are in the CAD. But "the Hall," which is how dispatchers refer to the administration, said it is up to new businesses to notify them. "This is a matter of public safety," I was told. Dispatchers lack the authority to update the CAD on their own,but could probably use down time to come up with numerous suggestions.

* Part of the reason for the poor morale is that the administrators in "the hall" are remote if not invisible. One dispatcher tells me she's never seen most of them. During emergencies, they sometimes walk into the center, but just glare at dispatchers.

* Dispatchers confirm that a quality assurance manager, who was supposed to be checking calls to dispatchers periodically, failed to do so for six years.

* Though most dispatchers are professional and courteous, there are some who are short with callers and even other dispatchers. This includes a 911 supervisor who recently yelled "Just die!" when a police officer's EID went off.    

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is an EID? Tried to google search, but even more confused.

Anonymous said...

"What are we supposed to do, stare at a wall?"

Read your training manuals.

Anonymous said...

I'm not buying this, this is a smokescreen for something else ... Why pick on the dispatchers, what's the real agenda?

Anonymous said...

@ 3:31...you can only read training manuals so many times. Believe it or not...they don't change. I'm sure you know that because you're well versed in yours right?! Apparently all of this crap is falling on those dispatchers when it has nothing to do with them. Be angry at their administration...they're the ones that make the rules.

Anonymous said...

Joan

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Kooter punch

Anonymous said...

You think morale s--ks at 911, you should be at the courthouse. We are in the same building and don't see them. They are afraid to be seen. Most of the time they are not there. I have never seen it so low!

Anonymous said...

more union puke crybaby bs

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a mess, just like the rest of the John Brown county of administration.

Anonymous said...

Well, somethings wrong at Norco 911 when I hear the local PD get a fire call up to 7 minutes earlier that the local FD being dispatched. Heard this situation more than a few times. Also, how many times a fire or EMS unit is calling the center to be told to wait, "I'm on a another channel or on another phone line". Where are the call takers and why aren't they separate from the dispatchers ? It's no wonder why Bethlehem wants nothing to due with changing over to the county system .

Anonymous said...

Just what the "F" do you expect from this debacle we call the 911 System and was screwed up from the beginning. go back to when 911 started. 911 started under the Seyfried administration and his cronies (lacked administrative leadership), was sabotaged by County Council and the Bill Brackbill administration because the plan was too expensive and the Brackbill administration implemented a 44 million 911 plan that was sabotaged by the Reibman administration. None of these plans had a experienced, qualified leader, at the helm.
Then along came Stoffa who endorsed all this crap and whose leadership was non-existent. Then came John Brown who doesn't understand and give two shits. The 911 system was screwed up from the very get go and continues to be destroyed by lack of guidance, proper training, and leadership by example. So let's go back to my very first sentence. Just what the "F" do you expect from this debacle we call the 911 system and was screwed up from the beginning?
That's right Bernie, this inefficient 911 system started with Seyfried (your buddy).

Jeff Fox said...

Anonymous @July 20, 2017 at 6:43 AM

"You think morale s--ks at 911, you should be at the courthouse. We are in the same building and don't see them. They are afraid to be seen. Most of the time they are not there. I have never seen it so low!"

The 911 center is not in the courthouse, it is in Nazareth near Gracedale.I suggest you stop looking for "them" at the courthouse and/or think before you post.

Anonymous said...

@12:13

EID= Emergency ID
A little pin on the radio that officers can pull in case of emergency

Anonymous said...

It's not a grenade. It's not a pin to pull lol- that makes it sound interesting.

It's a programmable button on the radio that the officer presses to send en emergency signal to the dispatcher that they need immediate assistance.

This is only accurate if the radio is programmed correctly with an ID that corresponds to the officer who has the radio, or if the "County" programs the radio console to show it properly.

Anonymous said...

"Well, somethings wrong at Norco 911 when I hear the local PD get a fire call up to 7 minutes earlier that the local FD being dispatched. Heard this situation more than a few times. Also, how many times a fire or EMS unit is calling the center to be told to wait, "I'm on a another channel or on another phone line". Where are the call takers and why aren't they separate from the dispatchers ? It's no wonder why Bethlehem wants nothing to due with changing over to the county system."

For a fire call, there are departments that micromanage how things are handled. It does take longer to give out a fire call because of these extra steps. It is called Burger King Dispatching. The police its easy you just tell the officer directly no extra steps. As for the second part there can be multiple other channels going at the same time; so unless I am mistaken we are all born with only two ears, one brain, and one mouth so they might be told to hold if multiple channels are being listened to. Remember Northampton County has 200,000 residents so things might get busy at times and a lot of shifts only run with eight people.

Anonymous said...

This is about 99% the CAD's issue (Conputer Aided Dispatch). Half the time, there is an issue with the structured dispatch (the units/stations recommended for the call). When there is an issue with the structured dispatch, the dispatcher needs to spend time trying to fix whatever the issue is.

Why not send it out right away and fix it later you might ask? The county (admin) allows the fire depts/chiefs to practically dictate how things are done. If there is an issue -even the smallest- they will call up and complain, have the dispatcher written up, suspended- depending on the issue.

Half the time, depending on the supervisor or admin personnel that receives the complaint, it isn't looked into- the dispatcher is just told to sign the write up.
Now, I'm not defending the dispatcher(s) by any means.... but there is a very good chance that it isn't the fault of the person you are hearing on the radio.

A lot of the dispatch delays that you hear, could be resolved if the CAD was reliable and worked correctly the first time- even if it was updated with current businesses, things would improve drastically.

If any member of a fire dept/EMS agency wants to see what bs the dispatcher have to go through to get your call out, I highly recommend observing for a few hours- it will be eye opening for you.

To answer your question about the call takers...

Depending on the shift, there is only one call taker... I know- pathetic (admin issue)
The way the phone system is set up, if you are not a "call taker" you are presented with the next call and are given 10 seconds to answer it before it rolls over to the next "dispatcher". 911 calls are supposed to be answered in 10 seconds or less 90% of the time- that is why the dispatchers are on the phone at the same time as the radio. Ultimately because there aren't enough call takers.

Officer/field unit safety issue? YES.


Want to get it fixed? Call and express your concerns to the 911 center admin. Don't expect them to call you back anytime though. They will never admit that there is an issue.

Anonymous said...

By "them" they are referring to their supervisors, not the 911.

Anonymous said...

Morale? Do your fucking job or quit and find another that's more fulfilling. You are not indentured servants. There's a reason it's called work. They were called out for watching the boobtube and they blame it on morale. That seems rather convenient. And Bernie, whose first inclination was to rightly call out tv watchers, pivots like a he's spring-loaded when there's a chance to rip the current administration. All players are acting as expected. Same shit - different flies.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I still don't like the TVs., and the complaints are about the 911 admin, not the county admin, althofh John Brown is ultimately responsible.

Anonymous said...

I think John Brown is also responsible for AIDS, cancer, climate change, Lamont McClure's several chins, and the Phillies' woes. Let's get it all out there.

Anonymous said...

The original story was based on hearsay, go spend at least a few hours at the 911 center.

Anonymous said...

The original 911 center was sabotaged in part by the volunteer fire companies and ambulance squads thru out the Slate Belt. They were going to loose their beloved Blue Mountain Control Center. This made them very pissed since some of them had connections with the Blue Mountain Control Center so they did everything in their power to make sure the new 911 center got bad publicity.

Anonymous said...

I've been in quite a few dispatch centers over the years and had family that worked in the Carbon County one. Every single one had televisions for the dispatchers during *down* time. They also paid poorly for all of the responsibility that the dispatchers have.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"The original story was based on hearsay, go spend at least a few hours at the 911 center."

The original story is accurate, and by the way, hearsay is admissible on this blog.