Providing emergency

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.

&#8220I don't understand how people can't comprehend how important our jobs are,” she said. &#8220When 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.

&#8220We 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.

&#8220We 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.”

&#8220If 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.

&#8220Police officers, firemen and other rescue personnel know how important 911 services are,” Woolley said. &#8220But 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.

&#8220When 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. &#8220”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.

&#8220Crenshaw County is blessed with our volunteer fire and rescue people,” Hudson said. &#8220We 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.

&#8220If 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. &#8220Because what if someone hit the cow, and there were traffic fatalities? It would all come back to us.”