Wichita Falls 911 dispatchers begin social distancing

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The celebration of National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week is looking a bit different this year, as local dispatchers begin to increase their social distancing efforts while serving the public.

Dispatchers are already six feet apart when they work, but officials found it necessary to further distance dispatchers to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.

Wichita Falls dispatchers have been split up between the public safety training center and the backup dispatch center in the Wichita Falls Police Department headquarters.
But dispatchers are still working together no matter how far apart they are.

“We’re still able to communicate with each other with terminal messages and stuff like that,” Wichita Falls 911 dispatcher Marc Phillips said.

Phillips and Wichita Falls 911 dispatcher Shelbi Smith work at the training center and dispatchers that work at police headquarters will work there for the time being.
Officials say this makes it easier to limit traffic and clean stations.

“Every day we come in we clean off our console, clean our headsets and practice social distancing as best we can,” Smith said.

Dispatchers say these social distancing measures haven’t altered their work and the shelter in place ordinance hasn’t necessarily lowered the numer of calls for them either.

“We’ve had a few shelter in place calls. People calling in businesses, people gathering. But for the most part, our day to day hasn’t changed a whole lot.”

“It has slowed down a little bit,” Smith said. “Maybe in the mornings because people are sleeping in but as far as the calls, you still get 911 calls.”

At the end of the day, these dispatchers are happy to do their job. And the community has shown their appreciation as well.

“It’s telecommunicator week so people are coming in and thanking us and all that stuff. Occassionally a citizen will call in and say ‘thank you for everything that you do.’ So it’s nice to get the recognition but it’s never needed,” Phillips said.

These changes have just recently been put into effect but those dispatchers don’t mind being a little safer.

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