Allegheny County 911 Coordinator Facing a Shortage, Long Hours – CBS Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Allegheny County 911 dispatchers are working tirelessly to keep the community safe while experiencing staffing shortages.

Inside the Allegheny County 911 call center, normally 14 callers work on a shift. But recently, there have only been seven, according to Rick Grejda, a business agent for the coordinating association, SEIU Local 668.

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“Things are going pretty badly and people are bearing the brunt of that and it is taking a toll on people,” said Al Smith, a business agent for SEIU Local 668. a business agent of SEIU Local 668.

Smith said hiring dispatchers has been a challenge for nearly a decade, and COVID-19 has exacerbated the problem.

“There are 259 funded positions. They only have 211 positions filled, and out of those 211 positions, they have 40 of them on COVID leave,” Smith said.

As a result, he said, dispatchers have been working 12-hour shifts for nearly two months.

“The work itself is hard, but now you’re talking 12-hour shifts. If you’re lucky, you get home in an hour, right, and you try to get some sleep, see your family, then you go back to work. You do it over and over, over and over and you add that to the stress of the job,” Smith said.

Allegheny County Emergency Services Chief Matt Brown said in a statement, “We have been meeting regularly – and continue to meet – with union leadership about all HR impacts on operations 9. our -1-1. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the questionable staffing shortages, which, together with the impact of COVID-19, will be increasingly concerned with employee layoffs and scheduled vacations. Our current staffing challenges have been minimized with the implementation of alternative schedules. Our 9-1-1 HR fluctuates daily with regard to similar day-to-day call history, planned events, and potential weather impacts that can increase call volume.” .

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With the possibility of blizzards on the road Sunday and Monday, Smith said don’t hesitate to call 911 if you have an emergency.

“Everyone will work as hard as they can to answer every incoming call. People don’t hesitate to call 911, keep the phone if they need to. It’s the safest thing to do. Smith said.

He said some dispatchers have volunteered to work overtime during the upcoming snow event.

Brown also said in his statement, “When calling 9-1-1, always stay on hold until answered. Don’t hang up and keep calling back. Every time the caller disconnects and calls back, they go back to the end of the call queue. In the event that you are disconnected, all calls will be returned immediately. In the event that the caller cannot be reached, first responders will be dispatched to the last known location of the caller to confirm if assistance is needed. This has always been the standard of operations”.

Smith said the union contract recently expired.

“The contract just expired on December 31, 2021. We are waiting for an additional date to get back on the table. I believe we are apart with a lot of work to do, we have to deal with. Hopefully, we can do that. If not, we’ll figure out where we’re going from there,” Smith said.

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