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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
In 2016, the Springfield-Greene County 91-1 Emergency Communications department averaged nearly 22,000 9-1-1 calls per month with over 81% from mobile devices, says Director Zim Schwartze.
The 9-1-1 telecommunicators, housed in in the 9-1-1 Operations Center within the Springfield-Greene County Public Safety Center at 330 W. Scott, fielded 515,437 total phone calls (emergency and non-emergency) with 263,166 of those as incoming emergency 9-1-1 calls, an increase of 3% over 2015.
The percentage of local 9-1-1 calls coming from wireless devices is above the national average of 70-75%, Schwartze said. With cell phone usage increasing over the past decade, dispatch centers have seen landline usage decrease and mobile device usage increase dramatically. Springfield-Greene County has gone from approximately 40% in the early 2000s to 81% in 2016.
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 9-1-1 organizations continue to work toward passage of statewide legislation regarding wireless funding. This legislation's goal is to help the many dispatch centers that struggle with appropriate funding for 9-1-1 services or the many counties that do not have a 9-1-1 system in place.
"We were ahead of many other Missouri counties when a 9-1-1 sales tax was passed by voters in April 2007, which provides all funding for our 9-1-1," Schwartze says. The City of Springfield and Greene County worked together in the mid-2000s to organize the current structure of the 9-1-1 system.
The 9-1-1 department employs 77 full-time employees who provide dispatch services for 13 fire districts and nine law enforcement agencies countywide. Medical calls are immediately transferred to the appropriate local hospital for assistance. This marks the largest number of full-time employees in the 15-year history of the department. In addition, the department has also implemented a full-time quality assurance manager, along with a new software program. The new program will allow the QA manager to provide constructive feedback and an objective overview of each telecommunicator's performance on a monthly basis.
Extensive training for telecommunicators and supervisors will again be a key focus for the upcoming year. This year will be challenging, as an upgrade to the phone system is being implemented, to include text-to-911 capabilities, as well as a planned upgrade to the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system.
“Our 9-1-1 telecommunicators must be ready to handle any type of situations that callers give them on a daily basis. Callers are often distraught and our telecommunicators are able to get the relevant information from them as quickly as possible, try to calm the caller, and dispatch the appropriate public safety personnel," Schwartze said. "I continue to be amazed and very proud of the work they do serving our community and user agencies every day they come to work."
Schwartze reminds citizens that 9-1-1 should be used only when a response is needed from police, fire, or emergency medical services personnel.
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For more information, contact Director Zim Schwartze at 417-829-6209.