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Fourth Pasco 911 operator found sleeping on duty

1:05 PM, Jul 19, 2013   |    comments
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NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. -- When you have an emergency and dial 911, seconds count and you hope the operator can get help to you as soon as possible. But if that 911 operator is asleep and can't take your call, your life could be in danger.

In the past, WTSP News Investigators discovered 911 operators in Pasco County were sleeping on the job -- and it's happened again.

Pasco 911 operators work out of a communications center off Little Road in New Port Richey and when calls come in, like any other 911 center they answer, "911 what's your emergency".

Pasco residents, like Lee Flowers, say when they call 911 they expect someone to answer, however, Flowers was disappointed to learn that in Pasco that isn't always the case.

For some 911 operators, like Kathryn Hertzog-Debow, work can also be night-night time.

That was true, for 911 operators Jeanette Schmidt and Dave Cook who we've reported on in the past. Now, Philip Goodman joins the crew watching their eyelids instead of their computer screens.

"This is unacceptable behavior and we will absolutely deal with it," says newly-hired Pasco administrator Michelle Baker.

Baker is also concerned because, in addition to sleeping on duty, Goodman is being investigated for being distracted by visitors in the communications center. We're told his girlfriend illegally comes in, he has extended absences from the communications center while on duty and has a lack of alertness. Right now, Goodman still has his job but has been relieved of duty.

According to Baker, "There is a difference in relieved of duty and terminated. We have to investigate before we terminate, but he will not be coming to work."

And while having one 911 operator go to sleep on duty is bad enough, this is the fourth time we've reported on 911 operators checking out and going to sleep on the job. And get this -- each one was a supervisor when they went to Sleepy Land.

Baker says that makes it worse, "Because you count on your supervisors to make sure it doesn't happen."

Flowers most likely speaks for most of Pasco when he says, "I'd say somebody has to be accountable for that."

Baker says that will happen and she will try to find out why this sleeping on the job problem is a problem at Pasco 911, but not in other agencies we checked.

"We will be looking at the remedial training we have offered and try to figure out why this has been a systemic problem."

Finally, Baker says things should be getting better. She has hired a new administrator for communications and, in October, police and fire 911 centers will merge which she says should make the system more reliable. In addition, Baker says they'll do everything to insure this will never happen again.

WTSP

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