‘A lot of effort’: Staffing, vaccine requirements cause changes for 911 dispatchers

SPOKANE, Wash. — Big changes are on the way when you call for help. The Spokane Police Department will soon take on more responsibility and more 911 calls.

The change starts on Monday, but preparation is happening now. The goal is to make the community safer, even when staffing is still an issue.

Starting Oct. 31, unvaccinated Spokane firefighters will be allowed to work with people again. This left the department with not enough staff to answer calls, so SPD is stepping in to help.

“When Governor Inslee relaxed the vaccine mandate, that set forth kind of a chain of events,” said Justin Lundgren. He’s the assistant chief of police with SPD who announced the changes on Friday.

The chain is requiring change for first responders.

“Spokane police dispatch will take on 911 call processing duties as SREC takes on fire calls,” he added.

Spokane Fire used to dispatch their own teams which wasn’t always easy.

“It was challenging to say the least,” said Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer. “Now, we’ll be under the same umbrella as all of our county partners.”

Partners across the county are still strapped. Fire, police and the emergency communications center still need staff, so this change could cause some delay.

“I’m not going to stand here and say this is a small task or a small change,” Lundgren said. “This is going to require a lot of effort.”

Police will prioritize urgent crimes happening now, and less severe concerns may take a back seat until they can find more people to answer all the calls for help.

All first responders really want to make sure 911 lines are ready and available whenever there’s a crisis. You can help them out by making sure you call Crime Check at 509-456-2233 if a crime isn’t happening now but still needs to be addressed.

If you’re interested in jobs with the emergency communications center, you can learn more HERE.

If you’re interested in jobs with SPD or SFD, click HERE.