Los Angeles, CA — When disasters or tragedies hit, this is where those 9-11 calls end up at the 9/11 dispatch center in East Los Angeles.
The advocacy group Ethnic Media Services brought a number of reporters to get a first-hand look at how dispatch centers operate, even letting us listen in on how the calls are received.
With operators doing what they can to assure that help is on the way staying on the line to give life-saving instructions.
This brings back some memories for Lydia Solis. This Pinay writer used to work for the Los Angeles police department’s dispatch center some 30 years ago.
“They are all computerized we did it when it was manual Officer is calling turn right turn the knob green and then if the officer is out to lunch turn the knob red.”
But times have changes and calls continue to increase annually.
“Dispatch about 400,000 calls a year. And sometimes on the board you’ll see when it turns red or calls are backed up meaning the sheriff is sending us calls or we get dispatched form cel phone calls that we can’t process quick enough,” said Mike Fuentes, LA County Fire Battalion Chief.
Los Angeles County Fire which operates the dispatchers, along with firefighters, and the EMTs, are also fighting for more benefits to upgrade their equipment and hire more personnel, especially multilingual first responders.
“Just like the staffing hasn’t kept up with the increased call volume our revenue streams haven’t kept up with the increasing and demanding needs with this organization, hence that’s why we can’t put more firefighter-paramedics on the street,” said Daryl Osby, LA County Fire Chief.
Along with ethnic media services, LA County Fire has created a survey asking residents what services they can improve on.
They are preparing to present their challenges to the LA board of supervisors, to find ways to fight for adequate funding, so they can be better equipped to fight disasters and tragedies, big or small.