New report says Jefferson County’s 911 system is ‘chaotic’

A new and scary warning about the 9-1-1 system that’s supposed to protect you.
A new study we...
A new and scary warning about the 9-1-1 system that’s supposed to protect you. A new study we got ahold of Thursday calls Jefferson County’s 9-1-1 system “chaotic” and warns there aren’t enough ambulances to respond to you if you have a medical emergency.(WBRC)
Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 4:55 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 23, 2022 at 3:01 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - A new and scary warning about the 911 system that’s supposed to protect you.

A new study we obtained on August 18 calls Jefferson County’s 911 system “chaotic” and warns there aren’t enough ambulances to respond to you if you have a medical emergency.

The Jefferson County Commission asked for this study because so many of you are waiting a long time for ambulances, especially on the west side of the county.

And while the report is out, commissioners say there are more questions now than solutions.

The report says investigators watched a dispatcher handling a 911 call.

The operator told the caller no one was available to help and said that’s sadly not unusual.

County Commissioner, Steve Ammons, said staffing is a major concern.

“We can’t hire enough people. Not enough people want to go into public service to be a paramedic or even EMT, firefighter, or police officer. One of the other issues is, you know, some of the equipment in some of these jurisdictions…they’re having a difficult time, they’re running calls to different jurisdictions, and it’s putting wear and tear on their vehicles,” Ammons said.

Investigators also did an experiment where two people stood next to each other dialing 911 at the same time.

The calls went to two different 911 call centers.

This happens a lot because there are 14 dispatch centers in Jefferson County.

No other county in the state has more than two.

“Yesterday, we had a meeting with all of the fire chiefs throughout Jefferson County. We got a lot of their feedback. I think what we’re finding out is that every jurisdiction is going to be different. If we’re talking about west Jefferson County versus Vestavia or Trussville, they’re all different,” Ammons explained.

Ammons said many of the issues highlighted in the report are ones the commission already knew about.

So, what are the solutions?

“I can’t talk about solutions because we don’t have any. There are a number of other issues that we really want to coalesce those, make sure that we’re completely understanding it and looking at it holistically and then breaking it up into pieces so we can solve for, cause there’s not one answer. We need to solve for specific areas and how can we do that on a large scale,” Ammons said.

The report says a single entity should set standards and provide accountability for the county—adding that this would ensure anyone who needs EMS will get them.

Ammons said the commission plans to meet with hospitals within the county, the health department, and for-profit ambulance services to understand their issues as well.

He said commissioners don’t want to just throw money at the problem now and have the same issue in a year or so.

So, they will continue to search for short-term as well as long-term solutions.

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