FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE In 2014, the Springfield-Greene County 911 Emergency Communications department averaged more than 20,500 9-1-1 calls per month with nearly 80% from mobile devices, says Director Zim Schwartze. The Springfield-Greene County 911 telecommunicators in the Operations Center fielded 490,143 total phone calls (emergency and non-emergency) with 246,596 of those as incoming emergency 9-1-1 calls. These statistics show an increase of approximately 3% of total calls handled as compared to 2013. The 80% for wireless 9-1-1 calls in 2014 is above the national average of which ranges between 70-75% that most dispatch centers receive from mobile phones. With cell phone usage increasing over the past decade, dispatch centers have seen landline usage decrease and mobile devices severely increase. Springfield-Greene County has gone from approximately 40% in the early 2000’s to the current 80%. The volume of wireless calls provides extra challenges and delays for telecommunicators who must take more time to process the call, determine if multiple calls are being received about the same incident and then dispatch the appropriate emergency personnel. Still to date, Missouri is the only state that does not collect any fees or tax money from wireless usage to help fund 9-1-1 dispatch centers. Several state organizations continue to work towards a goal of passing statewide legislation regarding wireless funding. A countywide 911 sales tax was passed by voters in April 2007 which provides all funding for the Springfield-Greene County 911 Emergency Communications department. The City and Greene County worked together in the mid-2000’s to organize the current structure of the 911 system. This was ahead of many other counties across the State of Missouri who still struggle with appropriate funding for 911 services. Currently, the department employs 70 full-time employees, including telecommunicators and administration, who provide dispatch services for 14 fire districts and nine law enforcement agencies countywide. Medical calls are immediately transferred to the appropriate local hospital for assistance. 9-1-1 telecommunicators undergo an extensive training program and must successfully complete approximately 700 hours of training before they can be considered a fully trained dispatcher. This past year was extremely challenging as a new set of Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) software was implemented in the Operations Room with obstacles that had to be overcome. “Our 9-1-1 telecommunicators handle a wide variety of emergency calls and situations from stressed and distraught callers. In addition, this year had its share of technical issues with the CAD upgrade our telecommunicators had to work through daily. We are fortunate to have a highly developed training program for new hires as well as continuous ongoing training which is imperative in our department,” Schwartze said. “I’m very proud of the work they do day in and day out serving our community and user agencies.” This past year, 911 staff received two top honors. Assistant Director JR Webb was named 911 Director of the Year, and Training and Education Manager Kris Inman received the George A. Major Trainer of the Year by the Missouri Chapters of APCO (Association of Public Safety Communications Officials) and NENA (National Emergency Number Association). Schwartze reminds citizens that 9-1-1 should be used only when a response is needed from police, fire, or emergency medical ambulance personnel. # # # For more information, contact Director Zim Schwartze at 417-829-6209.