Dispatchers call Fire Rescue paramedics for medical assistance at Hillsborough dispatch center


Dispatchers at Hillsborough Fire Rescue claim the stressful conditions in which they work are taking a toll, mentally and physically.  
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue dispatched crews to emergency scenes 107,362 times last year.
Through June of this year crews were sent to 53,849 scenes.
A few of those crews were sent to the Emergency Dispatch Center. 
“Ambulances have been called to dispatch,” former dispatcher Heather Bobo said.
In her recent letter of resignation, Ms. Bobo revealed conditions in dispatch are so stressful and unhealthy that “In the past 2 years I have been a part of or witnessed at a minimum of 5 different dispatchers needing treatment on multiple occasions from an A.L.S.(advanced life support) ambulance.”
“Stress induced asthma, stress induced heart problems, it doesn’t just affect me, it affects a lot of people in dispatch,” Ms. Bobo explained.
Her letter charged the Emergency Dispatch Center is undermanned, leaving dispatchers over stressed.
“Emergency Dispatch Center is staffed adequately,” insists E.D.C. manager Margaret Hamrick.
How many times has Fire Rescue responded to emergency medical situations in the dispatch center in the last year and a half?  That request was made in June.
Through June rescue crews responded to 12 medical calls at Fire Rescue headquarters. 
It took the county more than a month to provide that information, which should have been available within hours.
According to Heather Bobo, people are calling out sick more often.
“One of the shifts, a couple of weeks ago, everybody called out,” she said.
The county opened an investigation into those who called used sick time, amid allegations the dispatchers had allegedly called out improperly. 
The union complained that dispatchers were improperly questioned about Heather Bobo’s letter and about our * On Your Side report raising questions about problems in the dispatch center.
 Union attorney Paul Donnelly wrote Senior Assistant County Attorney Rudy Haidermoter, protesting the line of questioning.
Meanwhile a  survey paid for by IAFF Local 2294 shows that 69 percent of the membership disagree that the Fire Chief and his administration are taking the right approach to increasing the physical health and well being of firefighters, paramedics and dispatchers.
If you have something that you think should be investigated call our 8 On Your Side Helpline at 1 800 338-0808.
Contact Steve Andrews at sandrews@wfla.com

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