COVID-19Zebra Misc

Still on Duty, 911 Dispatchers Answer Calls from Their Homes

Courtesy photo

Alexandria, VA – In its nightly email, the city continues to urge residents to stay at home, unless going out is essential. And when out, they stress the importance of maintaining six feet of distance around others.

Answering Calls from Home

As the first line of first responders, 911 dispatchers in the Department of Emergency and Customer Communications (DECC) send calls to emergency personnel.

Department staff also handle requests for customer services through Alex311.

At the start of the pandemic, DECC leadership recognized the importance of maintaining operations in the event of an outbreak. Staff were divided into separate groups to maintain physical distance and to help prevent the spread of possible infection.

As a result of these measures, groups worked at three sites: the Emergency Communications Center, a backup center, and in temporary isolation.

After a successful pilot program, Alexandria became the first city in the United States to enable some staff to answer 911 calls from home. Rather than relying on home phone or internet connections, this remote setup uses wireless hotspots connected to a dedicated national public safety network called FirstNet.

Regardless of location, staff comply with the same strict confidentiality and quality assurance standards. They also have access to the same computer-aided dispatch system that helps route public safety resources.

ICYMI — CORRECTION: Northam Extends Restrictions for Northern Virginia Until May 29

Kevin Dauray

Kevin is Publisher's Assistant with The Zebra Press. He has been working for Alexandria's "Good News" newspaper since 2019. A graduate of George Mason University, he earned a bachelor's in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. He also studied at the Columbia School of Broadcasting and holds a master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marymount University. He is an alumnus of T.C. Williams High School. Go Titans!

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  1. Great article! I moved my Utilities Order to Cash and call center teams home when I started noticing the need to distance staff from an office environment. We were ready to go because we prepared ourselves and my team was open to the idea. It was difficult in a government environment, but we did it and did it successfully without impacting our customers or our services. The work output has increased and staff members are happier. In the middle of the remote working we performed a large customer management system upgrade without failure and again without missing our performance.

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