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Extra dispatchers on duty to handle influx of emergency calls in Ventura County

It’s been a hectic week for Ventura County dispatchers as they’ve been inundated with 911 calls for tragedy after tragedy.

First, they responded to the mass shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks on Nov. 7, 2018. Then, calls have flooded in over the past week to report the Woolsey and Hill fires.

Ventura County Fire Captain, Brian McGrath says 9 extra dispatchers have been added to help with the influx of calls.

“We’ve been under extreme circumstances mentally and physically so it’s been challenging,” said McGrath.

On an average day, dispatch receives approximately 600 calls. When the Woolsey Fire flared up on Tuesday, they received more than 1,300 calls.

“These dispatchers work very hard throughout the hours and they are trying to manage not just one incident, the Hill incident and the Woolsey incident, but all of the calls for service in Ventura County,” said McGrath.

Trevor O’Shaughnessy says he was answering calls nonstop on the first day of the Woolsey fire and again during Tuesday’s flare-up.

“An influx of calls for people who have been reporting the fire, smoke from all over,” said O’Shaughnessy. “It’s just getting accustomed to them rapidly and being able to get all of the information that’s required and getting off of the phone to answer the next 911 call.”

Most of the extra dispatcher are from Ventura County. Others are from Cal Fire.

McGrath says extra staffing will be in effect until the Woolsey Fire is fully contained.

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