York County’s 911 Center in need of overhaul; training, overly complex dispatch processing highlights of audit

YORK COUNTY, Pa. — The organizational structure that makes up York County’s 911 Center needs an overhaul, according to an independent audit of the Center by IXP, a public safety telecommunications company based out of Princeton, New Jersey.

The audit points out a number of concerns, including relationships with public safety agencies, perception of leadership and overly complex dispatch processing.

But two things sticks out: training and cross-training.

The audit notes that the Center meets or exceeds the minimal training requirements established by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), but the training program isn’t advancing personnel through the process to work any position in the center as needed.

As a result, more overtime is needed for training, which, according to IXP, leads to employees gaming the system.

“By not having all personnel fully cross-trained to work any position in the Center, management needs to post high levels of overtime to keep critical positions staffed,” the audit stated. “When this is coupled with work rules that allow personnel to both strategically and tactically plan their leave requests, it creates opportunities for the workforce to manipulate the system and create more overtime opportunities than otherwise occur through normal scheduling.”

IXP offered this recommendation: The training and Quality Assurance processes need to be better integrated with operations, and a strong emphasis needs to be placed on getting all call receivers Emergency Medical Dispatch trained, and all of the Telecommunicators fully cross trained. Training for career advancement also needs to focus more on the leadership and supervision skills needed.

But as an organization, IXP is calling for the center to be operationally rebuilt. Per a news release from the county’s Office of Commissioners, they agree.

“Commissioners are seeking a transition management team that would work with staff and the public safety community to rebuild trust and collaboration with the agencies and communities and increase efficient and effective operations of the communication Center,” the release stated.

The Commissioners’ leadership team has been consulting with police, fire and emergency medical services leaders to identify gaps and recommendations for improvement to the county’s 911 operations.

The commissioners will meet publicly to discuss this at a special meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 24, in the commissioners’ meeting room on the second floor of the York County
Administrative Center at 28 E. Market St., York, PA.

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