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Dangerous dispatch delay in Hillsborough County Fire Rescue


WE HAVE A CREW HEADED TO THE KEEN ON THE GROUND. NOW 8 ON YOUR SIDE INVESTIGATES. 911 DISPATCHERS OVERWHELMED. A FIRE CAPTAIN’S RADIO CALLS GO UNANSWERED FOR MORE THAN A MINUTE AND A HALF. HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY DISPATCHERS ARE JUST TOO BUSY. A FORMER HILLSBOROUGH FIRE RESCUE DISPATCHER AND NOW THE FIREFIGHTER’S UNION CONTEND WORKING CONDITIONS IN THE DISPATCH CENTER ARE JUST MISERABLE. THEY SAY FIRE RESCUE IS NOT PROPERLY STAFFING ITS EMERGENCY DISPATCH CENTER. THEY TELL STEVE ANDREWS THE OVERWHELMING WORKLOAD IS PUTTING LIVES AT RISK. THAT IS WHAT THEY ARE TELLING ME. THEY ARE SAYING NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE FOR 911 CALLS. EMERGENCY CREWS TO DISPATCHING RADIOS TO MONITOR. RATHER THAN LEAVE THEIR PHONES AND RADIOS DISPATCHERS ARE UNABLE TO GET TO RESTROOMS IN TIME. JUNE 9TH A HILLSBOROUGH FIRE CAPTAIN RADIOS THE EMERGENCY DISPATCH CENTER FOR MORE THAN A MINUTE AND A HALF DISPATCHERS ARE TOO BUSY TO RESPOND. THE MANPOWER NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED IMMEDIATELY. HEATHER LEFT HER JOB AS A DISPATCHER IN PART BECAUSE OF MOMENTS LIKE THIS. SHE WROTE A BLISTERING LETTER TO THE COUNTY ABOUT CALLS OVERWHELMING STAFF. RATHER THAN LEAVE PHONES AND RADIOS UNATTENDED, HEATHER WROTE SHE’S SEEN DISPATCHERS THROWING UP IN TRASH CANS AND CONTINUE WORKING. DISPATCHERS ACTUALLY NOT MAKING IT TO THE BATHROOM IN TIME. UNION PRESIDENT DEREK RYAN IF MY DISPATCHERS CAN’T GO USE THE RESTROOM BECAUSE OF FEAR OF MISSING A CALL, THAT’S AN ISSUE. DISPATCH CENTER SUPERVISOR. I HAVE NOT BEEN ADVISED OF ANY DISPATCHERS THAT ARE THROWING UP IN A BUCKET. THEY HAVE OPPORTUNITY DURING THE SHIFT TO USE THE RESTROOM FACILITIES. I PLAYED THIS RADIO CALL FOR RYAN. NO RESPONSE FOR 45 SECONDS. ITS UNBELIEVABLE. THIS GUY COULD BE ASKING FOR HELP WITH SOMEONE POINTING A GUN TOWARDS HIM. IT TOOK A MINUTE 44 SECONDS FOR DISPATCH TO GIVE HIM WHAT HE WANTED. YES, SIR, WE HAVE A LOT OF PHONE CALLS BUT I’M REALLY BUSY. I’M BLOWN AWAY. UNACCEPTABLE. YES, ITS CONCERNING THAT WE DIDN’T RESPOND TO HIM RIGHT AWAY BUT HE WAS RESPONDED TO BY ANOTHER DISPATCHER. THAT POSES A SAFETY ISSUE FOR MY FOLKS OUT ON THE STREET. AND AT SOME POINT SOMEONE WILL DIE. OVERALL OF THIS. I GUESS THAT’S WHEN WE WILL SEE A CHANGE. UNION CONTENDS FIRE RESCUE NEEDED TO PUT A LIMIT ON SPENDING BUT CLAIMS CHIEF JONES HAS MADE THINGS A LITTLE TOO LEAN IN THE EMERGENCY DISPATCH CENTER. DOES THE COUNTY AGREE? WELL HERE’S THE SURPRISE, NO, IT DOESN’T AGREE. EVEN THOUGH IT HAS SEVEN DISPATCHER OPENINGS, EMPLOYEES MANDATORY OVERTIME AND IS PLANNING ON USING FIREFIGHTERS TO HANDLE SOME 911 CALLS, MARGARET TOLD ME THE EDC IS ADEQUATELY STAFFED. ITS SO INTENSE IN THERE. IT’S A PRESSURE COOKER.

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