Chatham E911 Center adapts amid COVID-19 pandemic to keep employees, first responders safe

Chatham E911 Center adapts amid COVID-19 pandemic to keep employees, first responders safe

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Over the last two months, emergency dispatchers in Chatham County have added another list of questions to their repertoire when trying to figure out exactly how to help the person on the other end of the line.

Dianne Pinckney, Chatham E911 Center Director, said, “We had to ask if they’ve traveled, if they had a fever or signs and symptoms that were indicative that they may have been infected with COVID-19.”

That not only helps the patient get the best care possible, it also lets first responders know what they might be exposed to.

“It may take a moment longer in the process, but we try to make it where it’s more streamlined by giving them concise questions to ask," said Pinckney.

Pinckney explained that since the first COVID cases were detected in the county, call volume compared to the same time period at the beginning of last year is down six percent. She attributes that to fewer people being out and about.

Still, the 911 Center operations have expanded and are utilizing the backup center, and Pinckney told us why.

“We’ve actually opened up our backup center so that we can further distance our personnel and make sure that we can minimize and hazards to them as much as possible.”

Dividers between stations have also been added as an extra layer of precaution, along with sanitizer, wipes and personal protective equipment where needed.

Pinckney said, “We send out reminders periodically to our staff to make sure they know it’s up to us, even though our managers have a responsibility of making sure that we’re safe, we also have a personal responsibility to keep each other safe.”

That helps ensure that the critical service on the front lines stays healthy and ready to manage any crisis, even during a global pandemic.

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