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News : Wood County 911 Dispatchers Below National Call Answer Time
Parkersburg, WV, USA, Jan 6, 2016 -- In an emergency situation, whether you need the fire department, police, or medical assistance, every second counts.
At the Wood County 911 Center, dispatchers are known as being some of the most efficient in the business.
"A lot of it is the pride and dedication the dispatchers have in their job here, we have a lot of dedicated people," said rick Woodyard, director of Wood County 911
In December, they answered over 10,000 calls faster than many dispatchers in the nation. They have an average answer time of just under 7 seconds, compared to the national average of 10.
"The quicker we get that information out to the first responders, the better the individual is who is calling for the 911 assistance," Woodyard said.
The call center has also added a few upgrades with the help of a 75 cent user fee. They've installed the technology to combine radio channels, bringing first responders together for major incidents.
In the spring, they will upgrade their mapping system to one that is about 3 times clearer than Google Maps.
The fee also helped them bring on four new dispatchers, and they're looking for a few more, to help get you get help faster.
"Right now the EMS dispatcher has to dispatch EMS, that's emergency medical, ambulances and fire. So if you have two or three ambulance calls within the county and a fire going on at the same time, it gets very confusing for that dispatcher. They have to switch back and forth from incident to incident. With that 6th person, we want to split that, and dedicate a dispatcher for EMS and dedicate a dispatcher for fire," Woodyard said.
For the entire year of 2015, the Wood County 911 Center received over 120,000 calls and dispatched first responders to about 107,000 of them.
Officials say that low call answer times are nothing new, and that historically, the center has always been able to get you the help you need quickly.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Today's Tip of the Day - Power Hour
Published: Thursday, January 7, 2016