Lincoln 911 dispatch operates during the pandemic

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 7:25 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Since the pandemic started, 10/11 has been telling you how Lincoln first responders have shifted their operations, making sure they’re able to still help you, but now we’re hearing about Lincoln 911 dispatch.

Lincoln 911 dispatchers answer an average of 36,000 emergency calls every month, making their work beyond essential. They tell 10/11 it’s important they take the necessary precautions surrounding COVID-19, keeping everyone safe.

Unlike many other jobs able to work from home, it’s impossible for dispatchers to do so. Staff is now separated, using two different call centers. At work, every employee wears a mask, goes through a COVID-19 screening and has their temperature checked. Once they pass, an employee receives a green wristband, giving them the okay to enter the call center.

Along with plexi-glass dividers to help with social distancing, each dispatcher has their own keyboard, mouse and headset. Dispatchers tell 10/11 it's all being done to better serve the community.

“Our main concern really is no interruption in services. We help people with their emergencies, just as we did before. Officers are still able to contact people in person using their precautions, and I just think that’s so important that we’ve really had no interruption in our services that we’re able to give to people,” says Brandi Villamonte, Lincoln public safety dispatcher.

Each dispatcher is also responsible for filling out a daily sanitization log after cleaning their work station and other frequently touched surfaces.

Dispatch centers have also had to suspend tours open to the public. They now have emergency staff on hand in case COVID-19 quaranting of a number of employees has to take place.

"I think all of these other precautions are really to avoid having to do something like that. So, even though it's time consuming and it's not easy to keep everything sanitized, we're really making sure that we have the staff at work to handle the emergencies that need to be handled," Villamonte tells 10/11.

In June, the main Lincoln 911 dispatch center received a deep cleaning. Staff now also limits its interactions with LPD officers, allowing only a certain number of people in the building at a time.

Copyright 2020 KOLN. All rights reserved.

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