911 Dispatchers needed in McPherson County

By Nick Gosnell
February 23, 2015

McPherson County needs more 911 dispatchers, according to a presentation made at Monday's McPherson County Commission meeting.

McPherson County Emergency Management/911 Director Darren Frazier said that three years ago a lot of the functions in the dispatch center changed, and those changes make dispatchers busier, which means they need more people for coverage.

Frazier said, "Now we're doing CPR instructions, where before we weren't, we did, I think, three childbirths this year, active fires, you know, just all kinds of different stuff. We knew back then, that we may have to look at additional personnel in order to handle the call volume and the fact that the dispatchers would be on the phone longer, with that caller."

Frazier particularly cited days when only two dispatchers are on duty. Traditionally, that has been on Sunday, as though it is not always the slowest day, that has been the place where they have had the least staffing.

Frazier said, "We've collected our facts over the three years, we've realized that on any shift, less than three dispatchers is overwhelming."

McPherson County Dispatch dispatches for 26 agencies.

Frazier said, "When they are busy,for instance, on a CPR call, if you have two people in that dispatch center, one person's giving CPR (instructions), the other person's paging out appropriate personnel. So, law enforcement or somebody that calls in for whatever purpose....they may occasionally get a standby."

When both dispatchers are busy, their radios are locked out and they can't hear the next person calling in to them.

In order to have a three person shift consistently, you need to have 5.1 full time equivalent people per shift to cover for time off. Frazier would like to start by fully staffing the evening shift and then adding a swing person from 6p-2a to allow for the busiest times in both the evening and overnight shifts.

However, the Commission did not make a final decision on that yet, as they need to look at the budget to see how that will break down. They hope to make a decision in the next few weeks.