Lincoln County Dispatch Coordinator Maryanne Christensen says the office is understaffed to meet the demand of calls the department is receiving.
She says she started tracking the number of calls in 2012. That year it received 15,000 calls. In 2021 it received over 21,000 calls.
“And that’s not the phone call coming in ‘Hey, what’s the number here or will you transfer me there,” Christensen said. “That’s actual calls for services that validates a response from a responder.”
She says not every call is an emergency as some may require an officer to go check a vin number. So, it could be a spectrum of reasons someone needs a responder.
She says the increased population in the county is influencing the number of calls going up.
“That means there’s a lot more people that will dial 9-1-1,” Christensen said. She says a good aspect about the county is there are two centers. One is in Afton and the other is in Kemmerer. So, each location is staffed with at least one person.
“But we have to put (people) on hold to answer the other 9-1-1s,” Christensen said. “Which is frustrating to callers, ‘Hey, I’m on 9-1-1, why did you put me on hold?’
“Well, I have five other 9-1-1 lines ringing.”
She says year-to-date traffic accident calls are about the same as 2021, but if you go back five years, the call numbers have gone way up.
“We’re about double,” Christensen said.
She also says the “high intensity” calls have also gone up. This means those suffering from a gunshot wound or a major traffic incident, for example.
She says staffing is a part of the issue as well. She has three full-time dispatch workers in Afton but is down a full-time and two part-time employees. In Kemmerer she has four full-time and is down two part-time.
“I think with our call volume,” Christensen said. “We’re going to be needing some more.”
She says it is a great place to work and believes she has a great team. She has worked at larger dispatch centers as well.
“I have two centers,” Christensen said. “They work like one.”
She says the team all has their hearts in the right place and will do anything for anybody. If you’re interested in working with the county dispatch, you can apply online here.