E-911 to ask for more dispatchers

Published 10:02 am Thursday, July 30, 2015

E-911 dispatcher of the year Edwin Lee Green works at the dispatch center. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

E-911 dispatcher of the year Edwin Lee Green works at the dispatch center. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

The Warren County 911 Commission wants the consolidated city-county dispatch center to increase its staffing.

The commission voted 5-0 Wednesday to recommend to the Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the Warren County Board of Supervisors to increase the E-911 from 17 to 21 full-time dispatchers. Two members of the seven-member commission were absent.

“While there is a little bit higher cost to it, it is a fixed cost. It doesn’t fluctuate as much. And we’re guaranteed to have four people there and not have to bring people in on their off days,” said E-911 director Chuck Tate.

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With overtime and benefits factored in, it costs about $73,000 a month to staff the dispatch center, Tate said. The cost is split between the city and county. Adding four full-time dispatchers would eliminate overtime, allow the center to be fully staffed and cost between $82,000 and $83,000 a month.

“Between leave, vacation and everything, I typically have about four people on shift 80 percent of the time. Only about 20 percent of the time, do I have a full shift. Under this situation, we would still have people working 11 hours instead of 12, and we don’t have to bring anybody in on overtime,” Tate said.

At least three certified dispatchers are required to run the center, and with 12-hour shifts, there are no breaks for workers, Tate said.

“They don’t get a meal break. They’re eating something out of the supply cabinet,” Tate said.

Commission member and District 1 Supervisor John Arnold gave his support to the proposal and said he had talked to Hinds Community College officials about setting up a dispatcher training program.

“It would run a lot smoother for not a lot more money,” Arnold said.

The minimum cost of staffing E-911with its current level of dispatchers is just over $68,000, Tate said.

“That’s not absolute cost but that’s an approximate cost if we had all 17 people working fully certified, everyone only worked 11 hours a shift, nobody was ever out sick and had to be covered for and nobody had to do training on their off hours That is a pie in the sky type of situation,” Tate said.

Warren County 911 Commission seats are held by Vicksburg Fire Chief Charles Atkins, Arnold, Sheriff Martin Pace, Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr., Vicksburg Police Chief Walter Armstrong, Warren County Volunteer Fire Coordinator Jerry Briggs and Warren County Emergency Manager John Elfer. Flaggs and Pace were absent from Wednesday’s meeting.