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Business and the Economy
Business and economy news and issues in the Ozarks.

9-1-1 Calls in Greene County 3% Higher in 2014

Chris Violette

The Springfield-Greene County 9-1-1 Emergency Communications department said total calls last year exceeded 490,000, about 80 percent of which came from mobile devices.

That total, which includes both emergency and non-emergency calls to the department’s Operations Center, is a nearly 3 percent increase in calls fielded compared to 2013.

The 80 percent of mobile calls is above the national average, and a significant increase from 40 percent nearly a decade ago. But county officials say more funding is needed to help with wireless calls, which pose extra challenges and delays for telecommunicators in processing the call, determine if multiple calls are being received about the same incident and then dispatch the appropriate emergency personnel.

The Springfield-Greene County 9-1-1 Emergency Communications department receives all of its funding from a countywide 9-1-1 sales tax passed by voters in April 2007.

A press release notes that Missouri is the only state that does not collect any fees or tax money from wireless usage to help fund 9-1-1 dispatch centers. The agency says several state organizations are pushing for passage of statewide legislation regarding wireless funding.

In Greene County, the department has 70 full-time employees who provide dispatch services for 14 fire districts and nine law enforcement agencies.

9-1-1 telecommunicators undergo an extensive training program and must successfully complete approximately 700 hours of training before they can be considered a fully trained dispatcher, according to department director Zim Schwartze

She reminds citizens that 9-1-1 should be used only when a response is needed from police, fire, or emergency medical ambulance personnel.