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Pa. county concerned with dispatcher shortage

A former dispatcher for York County 911 said “it was normal for people to fall asleep” due to mandated overtime and short breaks

By EMS1 Staff

YORK COUNTY, Pa. — A 911 center is only about half-staffed in the midst of a severe dispatcher shortage.

ABC27 reported that York County 911 currently has 40 of the 80 dispatchers they need to properly run the center, and dispatchers are voicing their concerns about the working conditions that are caused by some dispatchers having to work 40 hours of overtime a week.

Former dispatcher Troy Snyder said he often had little sleep between his overtime shifts.

“It was normal for people to fall asleep in there,” Snyder said.

Snyder added that dispatchers were often forced to pull double duty.

“They are basically putting their emergency call on hold while talking to the police officer on the radio. That is a safety concern,” he said.

Wrightsville Fire Department Chief Chad Livelsberger said several fire departments are concerned about the situation.

“Wrong addresses, not the correct information being given,” he said. “A lot of time we took that frustration out on the dispatchers, but then when you dig into and find out they are working these crazy hours, we are all human.”

The current union contract forbids dispatchers to work more than 12 hours a day, and AFSCME District Council 89 member Steven Mullen said the “county is violating that.”

York County PIO Mark Walters said the shortage is not a problem and dispatchers are not being mandated to work more than 12 hours a day.

“We have people answering the phones,” Walters said. “This is not putting us in a position where we are incapable of serving the public.”

“For the county to say it’s not a safety issue to the public, they are lying,” Chief Livelsberger said.

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