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911 dispatchers from Georgia and the Big Bend deployed in southwest FL to help in the wake of Hurricane Ian

Posted at 6:56 PM, Oct 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-04 19:06:04-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Over 1,000 911 calls are coming in a day in Lee County alone which is why dispatchers from Georgia and the Big Bend are helping to direct those calls to the right emergency services like police, fire, or ambulance so people are safe.

"Probably the worst situation I have been in."

Amanda Ptak is the 911 Director for the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office in central Georgia.

She's part of a 12-person team made up of highly trained 911 emergency dispatchers that are now deployed in Lee County, Florida. The team also has members from Lowndes and Colquitt Counties…all with a goal of answering thousands of 911 calls a day as communities ravaged by Hurricane Ian are trying to recover.

Ptak says people often don't realize the stress dispatchers face in a time like this…

"They have been stuck here day and night they're sleeping in the center they haven't been able to leave, some of them have damage to their homes, some of them have things they need to take care of, they have family in different places they haven't been able to see."

The Tallahassee-Leon County Consolidated Dispatch Agency (CDA) is doing the same thing. They sent four team members to the City of Arcadia in DeSoto County to answer those critical 911 calls.

"We're all trying to help each other because we understand the challenges that we have and understand the challenges they're currently faced with."

David Odom is the Director of the Tallahassee-Leon CDA and says one of their team members is a peer support counselor who helps the other dispatchers process the toll it takes on their mental health.

"Some of these calls are very difficult, people lost loved ones here."

Something Ptak agrees with and is proud to help.

"I see how busy they are now and how tired they are so I can't imagine what they've been through for the last week so we come in and provide them a reprieve to be able to just step back and take a break, breathe actually get some rest."

Both teams will be in southwest Florida for the next one to two weeks and plan to provide even more 911 dispatchers in the coming weeks.