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Dispatcher shortage may increase risk to individuals

Imagine, if you will, your worst nightmare. Maybe it’s a mass shooting out in public or maybe it’s your wife’s psycho ex-boyfriend trying to get into your house. Whatever it is, there’s a good chance it’s a violent encounter of some kind.

You call the police dispatchers, as a good citizen should, only there’s no one to answer the phone.

Sure, most Bearing Arms readers have guns and are ready and willing to protect themselves, but what about your friends or your siblings? What if they can’t get the police? Or what if the dispatchers are so bogged down it takes them too long to get to the call?

And it’s not a remote possibility. At least one Texas community is dealing with that possibility.

Call after call with sometimes just two 911 dispatchers available to answer — that’s the situation right now for the Kyle Police Department.

The department needs more staff to help with current demands and ones in the foreseeable future with the city’s growth.

Tonya Domingo has answered 911 dispatch calls in Hays County for 26 years. She’s seen firsthand the increased need for emergency services.

“If there’s a major call that comes up and all of our lines are coming in at once, we can have 10-12 lines going at one time, and only have two people on duty depending on the time of day,” Domingo said.

It’s a call load that can be overwhelming for the department’s limited staff.

On a slow night, that’s not likely to be too big of an issue. You call, someone answers, and the dispatcher sends someone to help.

If it’s not, though, you could have a problem.

Now, this particular department is looking to hire four more dispatchers, which is a good thing, but it does get your mind to thinking about what would happen if you called for help and no one knew it.

That is my worst nightmare. The idea that I cannot help myself, that I need outside assistance, and I just can’t get it.

This is why the Second Amendment matters. Those in New York City or Chicago who just tell you to call the police aren’t likely dealing with this kind of thing. They can open their windows and yell for the cops and there’s a much higher probability they’ll hear it than folks in more rural communities.

Calling the cops might not be an option, but even if it is, there’s no guarantee it’ll work as planned.

And these are good, well-meaning dispatchers. We’ve also seen at least one case where the dispatcher was no such thing.

Most are, mind you, but you don’t get to pick when and where your worst day ever is going to happen and you don’t get to pick who’s working that day on the other end of 911. You have to deal, which is where guns come in.

As the saying goes, when seconds matter, help is just minutes away. That’s in the best of times, and your worst day ever isn’t the moment to hope you’re suddenly going to have the best of times.

We buy guns. We buy ammo. We buy holsters and pay for training. In short, we prepare so that should that day happen, we’re not dependent on dispatchers standing by and just waiting for someone to call. Sure, their phone will ring, but when it’s for the coroner rather than armed help to save your life, you can afford to wait a few minutes for someone to answer.

None of this should be taken to disparage dispatchers. Yes, there are exceptions, but most are dedicated to doing what they can to help people. It’s not their fault if they can’t.