Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 17, 2007
E-911 behind the scenes
By Regina Grayson
As she speaks over the radio dispatch, her voice is calm, quick and clear.
She then records data on a clipboard in front of her.
Having been an emergency personnel/ E-911 dispatcher for several years, Rose Williams shakes her head when talking about the general impression she feels many people have about her job position.
“I don't understand how people can't comprehend how important our jobs are,” she said. “When they call us, we are here for them.”
With the Crenshaw County Communications/ E-911 system working in the red in its 2007 fiscal budget, Williams said that the five full-time dispatchers the county now has will often have to work anywhere from eight to 16 hours at a time.
“We pull double shifts simply because we don't have enough people,” she said.
A full-time staff at E-911 would consist of eight full-time dispatchers.
But it's not just the fact that the county's emergency response system is understaffed. It is a highly stressful job.
“We get a lot of domestic violence callsŠ..At any given time, we might have three wrecks around the county, a house fire and a man beating up his wife all at the same time.”
“If we didn't have two people working together here some evenings, it could easily be overwhelming,” she said.
E-911 Board Chairman Paul Woolley agreed with Williams.
“Police officers, firemen and other rescue personnel know how important 911 services are,” Woolley said. “But the average person doesn't necessarily see it that wayŠ..unless you need them.”
Woolley is also captain and a training officer for the Brantley Volunteer Fire Department.
He said that last year alone Brantley VFD had over 100 runs.
“When Luverne United Methodist Church caught on fire, Brantley's Fire Department came up and covered for Luverne's Fire Department as a back up,” he said. “”We help each other because we're here trying to serve the people of this county.”
Crenshaw County Commission Chairman Ronnie Hudson echoed Woolley's statements.
“Crenshaw County is blessed with our volunteer fire and rescue people,” Hudson said. “We have worked hard to have some of the best, most cooperative community fire departments around.”
But it all comes back to the E-911 dispatchers.
“If someone calls and says there is a cow in the road, and it's in the middle of the night, you might think that's silly, but we have to send a deputy out to see about it,” Williams said. “Because what if someone hit the cow, and there were traffic fatalities? It would all come back to us.”