Like many agencies, the Alachua County Combined Communications Center continues to be faced with staffing shortages. Despite each of us working a minimum twelve hours of overtime each pay period, our staff continues to shine and support each other, the community and other agencies; standing up to any challenge presented to us.
One of our largest, recent events was a mass casualty incident that included a van full of children; claiming five innocent lives. As we know, calls involving children pull at our hearts the most. After shift, the shift huddled together for a debriefing session, and have been continually checking on each other. Last spring, one of our call takers stuck with a 10 year old who called 9-1-1 for a medical emergency and sadly watched his mother pass away. This call touched us all, and with some coordinating we worked together to brighten his birthday, by providing a celebration and gifts that his distant family was unable to provide. Upon receipt of word that two deputies were gunned down in our neighboring county, we immediately sent two dispatchers to relieve the dispatchers who worked the incident. We, also, took over their dispatch for almost two weeks to allow their agency to properly mourn and attend all funeral services and fundraising opportunities. During the Hurricane Michael tragedy, while our road units were being deployed, we deployed two dispatchers and two radio technicians to support their operations and to ensure radio communications continued despite the devastation.