Yakima Emergency Call Center Seeing Big Changes - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Yakima Emergency Call Center Seeing Big Changes

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When you have an emergency, this is who you call. And every time an emergency call receiver picks up the phone, they have no idea what is on the end of the line. When you have an emergency, this is who you call. And every time an emergency call receiver picks up the phone, they have no idea what is on the end of the line.
YAKIMA, WA - When you have an emergency, this is who you call. And every time an emergency call receiver picks up the phone, they have no idea what is on the end of the line. 

"Whether it's delivering a baby, or it's a person having a heart attack, a stroke, robberies, whatever," Brad Coughenour said. "It's high stress because you're dealing with all those things."

This last year has been more stressful than most. Nearly one third of the staff have left. With replacements still yet to be hired, the rest of the staff has had to work overtime on a regular basis to fill in.

There has also been turnover in the front office. Brad Coughenour was hired less than a month ago to head the department after the old manager left in January. Brad says replacing emergency call receivers is no easy task, they have to be responsible and trained to handle any type of 9-1-1 call. 

"It's not hiring a person who can answer a phone," Coughenour said. "No, that person has to be totally background qualified to touch that information."

Besides a new manager, and some new employees, there will be one other big change to the call center, a new facility, where they can install brand new technology to more efficiently handle your emergency calls.

The call center will be moving out of their space in the police department and into a much larger office in the County's Resource Center. The new space is planned to open next June with a $5 million dollar price tag.

"It's will be more efficient because the way the lay out is," Coughenour said. "We'll be able to put dispatchers and call takers to where they can talk back and forth easier and coordinate."

Helping emergency call receivers to work more efficiently to handle the more than 700 unexpected crises they deal with each day.

The Yakima Human Resources Department is close to hiring 8 more emergency call receivers to help make up for the staff the center lost in the past year.