If you’ve been a member of The Secret List for any length of time, you know we are strong supporters of fire and related 911 dispatchers. We have also been pretty vocal that without livable salaries, humane working hours, strong initial and on-going training, a disciplined communication center culture, strong qualified leadership (at all levels) and clear policy—bad outcomes are predictable.
In the latest “911 Nightmare” being reported on by our area anchor, WLWT’s Sheree Paolello, who did some digging and dug deep into an incident where six people died, when flooding washed away a bridge in Laurel, Indiana. Two of the victims were Josh Mosier’s little girls. Mosier hired attorney Tim Devereux to find out why the three Franklin County dispatchers inside the call center that day didn’t send help.
What they discovered was disturbing.
The complaint filed against Franklin County, the Sheriff Department and Highway Department claims 911 operators were making numerous postings on their personal social media accounts at the exact time the 911 calls came in.
ARE YOU F-CKING KIDDING ME?
Hours later, while rescuers were still searching for the victims, the chief deputy called into dispatch also questioning how this happened. The chief asked the dispatcher on duty in the afternoon to see if someone called and said the bridge was out around 0300. “God help whoever didn’t pass that on if they did,” the chief deputy told the dispatcher.
Then, the dispatcher tells him there was a call at 0418 hours saying, “advise that the bridge on Sanes Creek is completely washed away.”
The chief deputy then asked what the dispatcher did with it and she told him it was turned into an information-only call.
The chief deputy couldn’t believe it. “Are you f-ing kidding me?” he said. An information call means a deputy does not have to respond.
In our opinion, as stated, it’s all about the above listed factors. (Pay, hours, leadership, staffing, training etc) but there has to also be one additional factor considered:
JUST DISPATCH IT.
It hurts NOTHING to dispatch a call. it causes no issues. Creates no additional costs. Dispatchers should (based upon policy) treat every call as a “hot potato”…in other words, keep NO secrets-keep NOTHING to yourself-take ANY 911 call and pass it on to the proper agency or jurisdiction. Send them. Tone Them. Alert them. Dispatch them-it isn’t YOUR call to keep. Just do it.
Some may say that the “culture” of their dispatch center is to not “bother” the cops, the fire department, the medics…or whoever. Bother them? They are there TO be bothered. Bother them all night and day long. Cops, Firefighters EMT’s and their vehicles are all in the “PLEASE BOTHER ME” business. Dispatch EVERY call…isn’t YOUR call to keep to yourself.
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF
This is yet ANOTHER wake up call to those who lead communication centers to ensure that “public benefiting” policies are in place, that personnel are fully trained on those policies and that supervision applies in all cases.
And leave your cell phones and related video games in your car or at home. You’re at work. Work.
HERE is the entire story on that Indiana incident:
Another opportunity to learn.
Take Care. Be Careful. Pass It On.