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WC 911 requests one more dispatcher

WC 911 requests one more dispatcher
Weakley County’s need for another 911 dispatcher could be filled if the county commissioners vote to approve an amended budget as tentatively passed by the Public Safety Committee Wednesday morning.
Weakley County Emergency 911 Director Jamison Peevyhouse informed the committee about the need for another dispatcher since there hasn’t been an addition for six years. The added position would increase the number of full-time positions from 10 to 11, and it would increase line item 148 for Dispatchers under the Public Safety Department by $25,415.
“We’re giving just about everything we can give,” said Peevyhouse. “The same 10 people just cannot keep up.”
According to Peevyhouse, the dispatchers worked 232 days last year with only one person on duty, and they are working 8-10-hour shifts. The call volume has also doubled in the last six years.
The 911 Board would pay for $15,000 of the new position, while the county is only expected to have to pay around $12,000. Commissioner John Salmon asked if the county has always paid the dispatcher positions.
Peevyhouse replied the county generally pays for the county employees. Six years ago Weakley County 911 was supplementing around $44,000 and now, it’s over $100,000.
Commissioner Kevin McAlpin spoke about the general budget cuts that the county departments are facing.
“I’m sure you need it, but I have a hard time supporting an extra person when everyone in the county is facing cuts,” said McAlpin.
Commissioner and committee chair Jack Vincent asked if there was a rule on the number of people needed on duty. Peevyhouse explained that while there is no law on it, the model based on call volume suggests that Weakley County have 22 full-time dispatchers.
“That’s not feasible at all,” said Peevyhouse.
Weakley County 911 receives about 125,000 calls a year, which is increasing. Around 36,000 of those calls were dispatched. The heaviest time for calls is considered between 11 a.m. and 2 a.m.
It’s not uncommon for the dispatchers to handle up to six calls at one time. Weakley County 911 handles both emergency and non-emergency calls.
“It’s kind of tough a lot of times when you cannot see the revenues coming in to make a lot of decisions,” said Vincent.
“We could argue this all the time, but we don’t have the revenues in front of us to see.”
The committee tentatively passed the budget as amended. Commissioner Bob Bell asked if there was a way to educate the public about non-911 calls.
Peevyhouse explained how with many of those calls received, as many calls could be related to the same accident. Also, several calls may be ‘accidentally dialed’ in a pocket or purse. Some days, the dispatchers could face up to 700-800 calls a day.
“You’re never going to have the number of callers, plus one person,” said Peevyhouse.
The committee also approved the rest of the budget as amended. Director of the Juvenile Court Keith Jones reported to the committee that they have lost the Bright Horizons contract.
“With that, we have helped over 500 individuals and even more families get through with their addiction and get their lives back together,” said Jones. “This was a one-of-a-kind program. Mark Maddox worked hard five years ago to help us get this program started. The program was extremely successful.”
Also, Weakley County Sheriff Mike Wilson informed the committee that the Communications line item needed a $2,000 increase to cover the increase in service charges and for new cell phones.
According to Wilson, the department provides cell phones to the officers, and they are currently in need of two now. They keep the phones until they are worn out, and the service bill takes up most of the current funding.
County commissioners will be asked to approve the budget this evening when they are expected to meet at 5:30 in the Weakley County Courthouse in Dresden.

WCP 6.28.12

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