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Dispatch Center Faces Troubles Keeping Staff For Critical Work

Jul 7, 2023 (0)

The Boyd-Holt County Dispatch Center is responsible for the calling out of law enforcement and emergency medical services and fire department response in Holt and Boyd County.

The problem facing the area, state and country is the need for more people willing to do the job or interview.

The Boyd-Holt Dispatch Center has struggled to keep up with personnel in the last few years. Troubles with employees and management have fractured the once smooth operations center that dispatched for the two counties.

The Boyd-Holt 911 Board comprises two representatives from Boyd County, Sheriff Chuck Wrede and County Supervisor Alan Nicolaus. Representatives from Holt County include O'Neill Police Chief Matt Otte, Fireman Scott Menish, Holt County Supervisors Josh Treptow and Dustin Breiner, and then an at large position held by Keith Larabee of Stuart.

The dispatch center, which used to be run by a head dispatcher in charge of scheduling personnel and paying bills, would usually have enough personnel under that manager to cover shifts for seven days a week, 24 hours a day.  

A couple of years ago, the head dispatcher quit her position, citing disagreements with the organization's board of directors. 

Local fire departments and law enforcement agencies showed up at a meeting to support the former manager, with the board accepting her resignation and moving on. The resignation of the manager also caused two other dispatchers to quit. Since that point, two seasoned dispatchers have given up the ship due to retirement.

The board scrambled to find qualified help with a new manager and more dispatchers. 

The agency had a new manager and a few new dispatchers in the last year.

Still needing help filling positions, the board hired Rachel Moses, who began managing the center early last year. Her duties being a manager included the operation of the office, paying bills and some dispatching. Christine Sobotka, one of the more capable dispatchers, was moved up to training new hires and some managerial duties.

Ms. Sobotka has resigned from the post, and the dispatch center is currently short on experienced help.

The board has trouble retaining experienced help, whether due to a shortage of qualified applicants or expectations of the board being too much for any applicants.

The board is in a position again of being short of help, and the help they have not having a lot of experience to potentially handle a more significant event that may occur in their jurisdiction. A severe weather outbreak or a mutual aid fire included with regular law enforcement traffic would be enough to shake even the veteran dispatcher.

The board that governs the E-911 dispatch center has a tough row to hoe as the lives of first responders, law enforcement and the community at large can be affected by the hires and dismissals of the staff at our dispatch center.

The Independent has been invited to the board's next meeting, which is at Atkinson on June 20. The board will be able to shine more light on the problems they are encountering in keeping the center operational.

The following are some reasons the dispatching job is so tough to find individuals to work.

Being an Emergency Dispatcher is difficult for a multitude of reasons. Firstly the job is incredibly intense and stressful; at any moment, you could answer the phone to a panicked caller and alter the course of their lives depending on your actions. 

Those who quit during dispatcher training cite being unable to handle the "rapid pace of the job and the responsibility of having someone's lives in their hands." The hours are long as dispatchers are needed 365 days out of the year, 24 hours a day. Also dispatchers in small towns must often take calls from people they know.


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