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The Pachyderm in the PSAP

Author: Barry Furey

Copyright: 9-1-1 Magazine, Feature Content

Date: 2013-12-16
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An unusually poetic commentary of the state-of-the-art of dispatcher staffing and retention.  In the spirit of a holiday jingle, PSAP Management columnist Barry Furey examines the issues in rhyming meter and creative wordplay to address a one of the major issues challenging 9-1-1 Centers this year - and likely next.

I’m here to talk about the elephant
The elephant in the room
He’s called dispatcher shortages
And he’s going nowhere soon
He’s been here since the seventies
I know, ‘cause so have I
And he keeps on getting bigger
No matter what we try

We’ve studied him and task forced him
Dispatchers come, dispatchers go
But the elephant remains
We know that he’s an elephant
We know without a doubt
Yet in spite of all our knowledge
The elephant won’t move out

Ringing phones don’t seem to bother him
Nor does working short
And as for stressed out dispatchers
He couldn’t give a...snort
He’s plenty happy where he’s at
And so are all his kin
There’s Attrition, Burnout, Turnover
The whole herd has moved in

You can talk about your Next Gen,
And your FirstNet, with great glee
But we really need more people
And not more technology
Because the elephant’s bound to stay here
Until we find a way
To offer good retirement
Full staffing; decent pay

Now, to capture our to-do list
Would require a great tome
So instead I sat myself down
And wrote you all this poem
That perhaps in 2014
It can finally be said
“Peace on Earth – Good Will toward Men –
The Elephant is Dead”

Our 9-1-1 Center Management columnist Barry Furey has been involved in public safety for more than 40 years, having managed 9-1-1 centers in four states. A life member of APCO International, he is the current director of the Raleigh-Wake County (NC) Emergency Communications Center.  As an independent columnist for 9-1-1 magazine, Barry’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of his public safety employer.


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