Behind the scenes of Twin Falls City dispatch

Published: Apr. 9, 2018 at 6:10 PM MDT
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The week of April 8 celebrates

and the Twin Falls City dispatch communications manager said few people "think about dispatchers."

Tami Lauda, the communications manager, said dispatchers are the first of the first responders.

"They are the first message that is sent on an emergency, and they are usually the last, the end of every call too," Lauda said.

Lauda said the job is highly stressful and demanding.

"Nationally, turnover for dispatchers is high than school teachers and nurses," she said.

In the last year, the dispatch center received more than 180,000 calls, including emergencies, non-emergencies and redirecting calls within the city administration.

"We get every imaginable call you can think of," Lauda said.

For example, Lauda said when there is a power outage, the dispatch center is constantly getting calls about it, possibly at the same time as someone else calling about a more serious issue. However, dispatchers have to stay on a call until they see it through.

"They need to stay on that one line, get it taken care of before they can move onto the next one," she said.

She said that they are moving to a four month training program, where the trainer will be there for four months through different phases, taking calls between police radios and fire radios.

"Police radio is obviously the busiest. That's kind of the make it or break it area," she said.

Lauda said they generate about 45 to 60 minutes of talk time every hour, as two dispatchers are going through multiple phone calls.

While Twin Falls City dispatch is understaffed right now, Lauda said workers are working hard and constantly during their 12 hour shifts with few breaks.

"These guys don't get a break. They don't get to get up and have a 15 minute break or even a lunch break," she said. "They're eating at their desk right now, so they're just non-stop busy for 12 hours."

Lauda said dispatchers have "tough parameters" to work under.

"By a federal standard, or a national standard, they need to answer an alarm line in under 15 seconds, 94 percent of the time. They need to get the fire department in route in under 60 seconds, 95 percent of the time," she said.

She added that they need to get priority calls in under 30 seconds, and with their two dispatchers in a shift, they are in charge of radio frequencies, the phone, getting information and dispatching the first responders.

"I have a rock star team. I have a really great team of people," she said.