During COVID-19, Dispatch Increases Precautions to Protect First Responders


The Public Safety Dispatch department’s vision statement is simple: “Working together as a team and a family, serving others as we would our own.”

So, now in a time of uncertainty amid COVID-19, they are asking something of the residents they consider their own: Stay home.

“We come to work for you, so please stay home for us,” Amy Patin, public safety dispatch operations manager for the City of Sugar Land, said, referring to Fort Bend County’s current Stay Home Stay Safe order.

Sugar Land’s call takers and dispatchers are remaining flexible in a time of constant change by asking additional questions to further protect first-responders from the spread of COVID-19.   

“Usually we have (emergency medical dispatch) and (fire service dispatch) protocol that we follow depending on what the nature of the call is,” Patin said.  “But we implemented three additional questions on every single one of our calls so that we can make sure that we are keeping our first responders safe and keeping them aware of the situation that they are going into.”

On March 4, along with a standard list of questions asked with every call, Dispatch started asking:

  • Do you or anyone at the residence have a fever, trouble breathing or a cough?
  • Have you been exposed to anyone experiencing fever, trouble breathing or a cough?
  • Have you or anyone at the residence traveled at all within the past two weeks?

If a resident answers yes to any of these questions, dispatch will notify the first responders to proceed with caution and access the situation upon arrival. 

“Basically, we have to get that information rather quickly before the responders make the scene just so that they know how they need to respond or if they need to try and have the citizen come out, if possible, or if they just need to put on their (personal protective equipment) and go inside of the residence,” Patin said. “It’s information that needs to be obtained from the caller and also relayed to the first-responders via radio before they get there.”

Staff members for the City of Sugar Land are considered essential employees, and Patin said that her staff has done a great job of taking their work seriously and demonstrating their department’s overall vision and goals.

This week is National Telecommunicators Week and we’re proud of the work the department is doing!