Snoring Md. dispatcher disciplined, shifts under review

Dick Uliano,

WASHINGTON – Steps are being taken to ensure Montgomery County Fire and Rescue dispatchers are not asleep at the switch after an emergency worker snored through a call last month, a county councilmember says.

Councilmember Roger Berliner — a member of the council’s Public Safety Committee — says the entire county is “aghast” and finds it “appalling and unacceptable” that the dispatcher was fast asleep during an April 4 emergency call.

The dispatcher was 17 hours into a 24-hour overtime shift when he failed to promptly respond to a call for help for a man having trouble breathing.

Berliner says Montgomery County Fire Chief Richard Bowers assured him the incident “will never happen again.”

Berliner says the sleeping dispatcher has been disciplined.

The unusual 24-hour overtime shift also is under review, and the dispatch center’s layout is being rearranged so that supervisors can see dispatchers.

In last month’s incident, a 911 call taker transferred the emergency call to the fire and rescue dispatcher, who could be heard snoring before he responded to the call six minutes later.

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