York County 911 emergency lines “dodged a bullet” in recent phone outage

YORK COUNTY – Both York County Commissioner Chairman Randy Obermier and York County Emergency Communications Director Leila Luft have said the county “dodged a bullet” this past weekend when the county’s 911 phone lines remained active despite a major outage experienced by other agencies due to a fire at the Windstream data center in Lincoln.

However, both expressed nervousness about how the county was on the brink of losing the ability of receiving 911 calls – as did other counties, including Seward – during the situation.

Luft told the commissioners this week her concern was that Windstream didn’t reach out to earlier than the company did, “but we didn’t have an interruption in service, as was seen in other places.”

“We can’t get on the state system soon enough,” Obermier said, as that migration is slated for the near future and will provide another level of service protection.

In other business, regarding the emergency call center, the commissioners approved an agreement that will be given to potential dispatchers when they begin employment with the county.

Luft explained how it was needed to ensure training investment isn’t lost when potential dispatchers leave before fulfilling the probationary period.

She explained how the training period for a dispatcher is six months long, which is followed by a six-month probation period. She said a dispatcher in training left employment with York County right before she was fully trained – and then took a different 911 dispatch job with a different agency, after York County had already invested the funds into that training.

“This type of agreement has been implemented by a lot of 911 centers,” she said.

The agreement, which would spell out to the new employee how they would be responsible for paying back the county’s training investment, should they leave before the first 12 months have been achieved.

Luft said the county’s human resource firm and county attorney’s office reviewed and approved the agreement.

Commissioner Woody Ziegler said he felt the agreement was a good idea because “people don’t realize, we take for granted, the amount spent on training. And I think it should be classified as an investment, not a cost.”

Commissioner Daniel Grotz agreed and made the motion to approve the new agreement, with the other board members also in favor.


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