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Callers to 911 will be asked additional questions

Callers to 911 are being asked additional questions by operators to help prepare and protect first responders going to help during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The questions are being asked by 911 call operators across West Virginia, according to the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency.

The questions asked are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to MECCA 911 Director Jim Smith.

Smith said the questions asked include:

-Has the caller traveled?

-Has the caller experienced shortness of breath?

-Does the caller have a fever?

“If someone is being dispatched, the questions are asked after they are dispatched,” Smith said. “There is no delay in the responders being dispatched.”

Monongalia County’s 911 center has also changed the way its operators’ shifts work, Smith said.

Operators have been split into six crews and now work 12-hour shifts rather than eight-hour shifts. Two of the crews are always on standby and the rotations are two weeks at a time, Smith said.

“They’re doing what they have to do to get through this,” he said. “It makes for long days though.”

One 911 dispatcher was tested for COVID-19 and quarantined for 14 days. However, the result was negative.

Operators also have their temperatures taken every time they come into work before they are allowed into the dispatcher area, Smith said.

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