Emergency Dispatchers (Audio)
By Jenifer Jones
The House State Affairs Committee took up a bill that deals with the minimum number of dispatchers public safety answering points must have on duty. The 911 coordination board says by July of 2013 two or more dispatchers must be on duty at all times. Senate Bill 126 says if answering points are operating fine with one dispatcher on duty they can continue to operate that way. Representative Peggy Gibson of Huron opposes the bill. She says having only one person on the phones doesn't allow for emergencies to be handled properly.
"This is not a job to be taken lightly," Gibson says. "It only takes one call to go bad. It only takes one call to kill someone. And a 911 operator always needs a backup, even when the volume is light."
Proponents of the measure say smaller communities don't need two dispatchers at one time and can't afford them. The committee moved the bill to the 41st legislative day, effectively killing the measure.
Member stations can download the audio file here.