The Concerned Citizen

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Are 911 dispatchers being overworked?

Commentary by: Jillian A. Cohen |  ja_cohen@theconcernedcitizen.net

According to the following statement made by Christopher Geldart, director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for the District of Columbia, who also dc dispatch centerserved as interim director of the OUC (DC911) until the appointment of Karima Holmes, 911 call takers have a very hard job. “You’re talking to people on their worst day. It’s a hard job to do normally, and then to do it for 12 hours, that’s a lot.”

Well, the Concerned Citizen has learned that 911 police, fire, and emergency medical Dispatchers, a highly skilled group of individuals who undergo countless hours of initial training coupled with a yearly mandate of continuing education, are being forced, by the Operations Manager, to answer 911 calls when not sitting in the dispatch position, “the hot seat”, as it’s called by insiders.

We talked with some current and former DC officials and were informed that Janice Quintana, a former 911 director, ended the practice mentioned above, sighting employee stress and fatigue as factors that contribute to dispatch errors. We were also advised that this same Operations Manager, who was outspokenly opposed to Ms. Quintana’s decision to end the double duty of dispatchers, resumed the practice under interim director, Teddy Kavaleri, following her departure.

Listen folks! If the singular job of a 911 call taker is considered to be extremely hard during a 12 hour shift, it’s a wonder that Dispatchers, who are being forced to take 911 emergency calls and dispatch as well during a 12 hour shift, haven’t gone crazy by now. Don’t these employees have different job descriptions?

Dear Ms. Holmes, concerned citizens of the District of Columbia would like to see their 911 call takers concentrate on taking emergency and non-emergency calls for service and Dispatchers concentrate solely on their discipline, which is to send the residents and visitors of DC the right help, to the right place, at the right time.

After consulting with medical experts, the Concerned Citizen is convinced that fatigue and stress can seriously hamper the performance of dispatchers who need to be alert and functioning at high levels of mental accuracy when dealing life and property.

The current requirement, re-established by your Operations Manager, is an accident waiting to happen. As such, we sincerely urge you, as the agency’s Director, to put an immediate stop to this ridiculous and dangerous practice, before it results in another tragic incident.

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