YORK, Pa. (WHTM) – York County 911 is under a severe staffing shortage, with only about half of the 80 people they need.
Dispatchers tell ABC27 the county is mandating that some staffers work up to 40 hours of overtime a week with only four-hour breaks between shifts.
Troy Snyder worked at York County 911 for almost six years. He says he was constantly mandated to work overtime with little sleep between shifts.
“It was normal for people to fall asleep in there,” Snyder said.
Snyder says it was also common for employees to pull double duty, working both as a call-taker and a dispatcher.
“They are basically putting their emergency call on hold while talking to the police officer on the radio. That is a safety concern,” he said.
“This is life or death situations that cannot happen,” said Chad Livelsberger, Chief of the Wrightsville Fire Department.
Livelsberger says fire chiefs across the county have raised their concerns.
“Wrong addresses, not the correct information being given,” he said. “A lot of time we took that frustration out on the dispatchers, but then when you dig into and find out they are working these crazy hours, we are all human,”
The current union contract with the county lays out how many hours dispatchers can work.
“Currently the contract says they are not supposed to be mandating employees over 12 hours a day, and the county is violating that,” Steven Mullen of AFSCME District Council 89 said.
“That is not being mandated,” said Mark Walters, a York County public information officer.
The county says the staffing shortage is not a public safety concern.
“We have people answering the phones,” Walters said. “This is not putting us in a position where we are incapable of serving the public.”
“For the county to say it’s not a safety issue to the public, they are lying,” said Livelsberger.
Despite the shortage, some dispatchers are being suspended for refusing mandated overtime, which leaves more holes in the schedule.
“I think the county needs to open itself up to new ideas,” said Mullen.
“Wouldn’t it make more sense to not cause any reason for there to be a disciplinary issue so we don’t have to take these measures?” said Walters.
Union contract negotiations are underway and many are hoping for a change.
“[It] just seems like poor leadership at the top still not being fixed,” said Livelsberger
“It almost seems like nothing will change until something really bad does happen, and nobody wants that to happen,” said Snyder.
Last year, York County paid its dispatchers more than $1.2 million dollars in overtime.