YORK, Pa. (WHTM) – York County continues to have what it calls a “messy dispute” with the union representing its 911 dispatchers.
York County 911 is severely understaffed and some dispatchers say they are being mandated by the county to work 40 hours of overtime a week, sometimes only getting four hours off between shifts.
According to an AFSCME representative, five current dispatchers have turned in their notices since ABC27’s first story aired, which could potentially bring the number of staff to 33 dispatchers filling 86 positions.
The ABC27 Investigators’ first report on this issue found that mandated overtime at the understaffed 911 center is causing problems, and its been happening for years.
“It was normal for people to fall asleep in there,” said Troy Snyder, a former dispatcher. “Employees would also work as both a dispatcher and a call taker, pulling double duty. They are basically putting their emergency call on hold while you are talking to the police officer or whoever it is you are talking to on the radio.”
“Wrong addresses, not the correct information being given, 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,” Wrightsville Fire Chief Chad Livelsberger said.
The ABC27 Investigators checked back with York County to get its response.
“That is obviously a concern,” said Mark Walters, the county’s public information officer. “This whole thing is being reviewed.”
Walters says the county commissioners are taking it seriously.
“They have been out to the 911 center since this has come up,” he said.
In a previous interview with ABC27, Walters said the staffing shortage was not a safety concern.
“It is a safety concern, but to suggest that it is an imminent public threat, do this or someone will die, that is extremist,” he said.
The county is waiting on the results of a 911 center audit, which has already resulted in two eliminated positions being repurposed into a customer service/quality control specialist position and a deputy director position. The county is also considering selling some its old equipment.
Walters said 46 employees are currently working to fill 86 spots at the 911 center, including supervisors and administrators.
“It is a good show of how we feel about this and how serious we are taking this by taking people who are, based on the union contract, not authorized to do that but have been doing it for years to help fill the holes,” he said.
ABC27 asked twice to sit down with the county commissioners to discuss the ongoing issues with the contract dispute. They have declined.
Walters said the county currently has 14 people in dispatcher training and 52 applications for dispatcher positions have been received since March 1.
There is no word on when contract negotiations will end.
Online: York County Job Openings