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Seaford 911 Center Loses Employees

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SEAFORD, Del.- Since the City of Seaford announced plans to shut down the 911 Center and redirect calls to the Emergency Operations Center in Georgetown, two dispatchers have quit, and at least four others are in close talks with other agencies.

"They work hard, they're very involved in their community, they provide a good service and you can't blame them for being worried and starting to seek employment elsewhere," Anita Bell, Dispatch Administrator said. 

The city says currently the 911 Center is a "duplicate service," and many municipalities throughout Sussex County already use the EOC in Georgetown to take their emergency calls. 

Seaford Mayor David Genshaw says switching over to the EOC will ultimately save the city around $650,000, as calls would be redirected to Georgetown and operating costs would be absorbed by the county and the state.

Some in Seaford are against this, many who came out to a public hearing held at the Seaford Volunteer Fire Department a few weeks ago. 

Councilman James King SR. said, "If we're talking about saving money, I don't think in my opinion we start with public safety and 911 first responders. I think there are other things I think we can do as a city to achieve that," he said.

After hearing the remarks of many in Seaford at the public hearing, the council voted to form a committee who would ultimately give the council a recommendation on the 911 center.

But Bell says as her dispatchers become more worried, even if the committee votes to keep the center they may still have to fold anyway.

"When we get to the point that we can't staff 24 hours a day, we are going to have to fold down to state police and fire and EMS in Georgetown, she said.

Before the two dispatchers quit, the center manned eight dispatchers and one administrator, including Bell. 

But Bell says at this point, the 911 center is simply in an awkward position. Even if the committee decides to keep it, Bell faces rehiring and training a whole new staff. 

Though many, including Bell, are worried about the fate of the 911 center, she and many others like Genshaw say they are hopeful the committee will make a sound recommendation to the council. 

In a statement to WBOC, Genshaw said, "I have asked this committee to work as quickly as possible but to be thorough.  Their recommendation is very important and I would like them to be confident of the path forward.  My hope is that we could have their recommendation back to Council within six to eight weeks."

Genshaw notes that this is a tough situation for the city, but says employees eyeing other agencies, speaks to them being highly qualified and in high demand--saying many will not have trouble moving forward should the committee vote against the center. 

The mayor also added that the city plans to assist all workers looking for future employment. 

People like Alan Cranston, owner of Every Fiber Coffee in downtown Seaford said he will be serving on the committee. 

"This is a huge impact, we're talking about, people's lives at the end of the day, and that's not an easy decision and not a quick decision," he said.  

Genshaw says the committee is set to meet Oct. 1, Oct. 15 and Oct. 29 at 7 p.m.




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