Horry Co. 911 dispatchers deal with influx of calls

Long weekend for 911 workers

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County 911 dispatchers are trained to handle a large number of calls in a given shift, but during the long holiday weekend dispatchers had an influx in calls to try and dispatch out.

From Thursday, May 23 to Monday, May 26 the 911 call center dispatched out 830 fire and rescue calls. Now in a typical weekend its more like 550. When it came to law enforcement calls, dispatcher normally would have 1,800 calls, but in a matter of four days nearly 2,500 calls were made.

Toni Bessent is the director of the 911 Center. She said she always learns something new after a busy weekend, "and we sit down with our agencies we do dispatch out for and we see what went well and what didn't go as well. And then next year we'll tweak some of the things we did."

The dispatchers all worked 12 hour shifts at the center and this past weekend more dispatchers were on hand to field all the calls.

"We staffed up an extra radio for the state law enforcement division who were helping with the Memorial Day bike festival so they would have a dedicated dispatcher for that situation," explained Bessent.

People living in Horry County like Geraldine Gowers, who calls North Myrtle Beach home thinks it would be tough to have to dispatch out that many calls. "I've been there, with my husband doing all that stuff. And I would hear the stories when he came home." Gowers' husband was a police officer in Union, New Jersey before moving into the Grand Strand.

Anthony Snowden from Conway said he feels for the dispatchers after the previous weekend, "I really do. Seasoned people are probably accustom to it, but you never know what you going to get here. People I would imagine are stretched thin anyway just trying to keep the peace so to speak."

Bessent advises if anyone is going to have to call 911 for help to speak clearly and answer all the questions dispatchers have for the caller.

"We don't want to just send you help, but the right help," adds Bessent.

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