Resolve delays with dispatch system quickly

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Fortunately, an attempted abduction called in to the Adams County combined E-911 dispatch recently turned out not to be a real crisis but rather a case of miscommunication due to a language barrier.

It is also fortunate that the incident turned out not to be a true abduction case, because the dispatcher took 30 minutes to contact Natchez Police about the suspected abduction case.

Emergency management officials said the dispatcher was new to the job and made an error.

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We understand errors and human fallibility but if the incident had been a true case of kidnapping, the error would have been much worse.

In questioning the process that led to the delayed response time, however, the newspaper learned of an underlying problem that may have contributed to the error.

The underlying problem is the cumbersome and complicated dispatch system that requires dispatchers to change desks to take calls from the various agencies, including the city police, county sheriff’s office and fire calls.

Because the Adams County Sheriff’s Office has not yet joined a new statewide emergency radio system that other agencies are on, dispatchers must be at the appropriate computer terminal in order to take calls for a particular agency.

If the dispatcher assigned to a particular agency is on that terminal taking another emergency call, the other dispatcher must wait until that dispatcher is off the line to dispatch the call to the proper agency.

Fortunately, the Adams County Sheriff’s office is about to get its new radios.

We urge the county emergency operations managers to resolve the cumbersome and complicated dispatching system as quickly as possible after the sheriff’s office gets its new radios.

The next missed call could be a matter of life and death.