MILAN, Illinois-- Dozens of QComm 911 dispatchers, their families and supporters demonstrated outside their call center in Milan Thursday, June 27. The unionized dispatchers say they're understaffed and being overworked.
"We're working tooth and nail to make this place work and we don't feel like we have the backing of the QComm Board," dispatcher Sara Parker says. "If you live in one of the jurisdictions we dispatch for, you should be alarmed."
QComm began taking 911 calls at the start of the year. It was a consolidation of dispatch services in Moline, East Moline, Milan and Silvis.
Since then, the union says dispatchers have worked 2,607 hours of overtime. A 2018 staffing analysis also says there should be at least 31 dispatchers at the call center. Currently, there are 21.
Parker says 911 callers sometimes have to be put on hold because of how short-staffed they are.
"Think about it," she says. "If it's you calling because you need to do CPR on a loved one, and I have to put you on hold. It doesn't sit right with us. It shouldn't happen. There's just no excuse."
"We do not have the ability to keep up with the amount of calls that are coming in day in and day out," says Angie Gillette, another dispatcher. "We're hoping the QComm 911 Board hears our pleas to get more staffing."
News 8 reached out to QComm as well as the lead negotiator for the QComm Board but did not hear back Thursday, June 27.
Doug Maxeiner, East Moline City Administrator and a QComm Board member, says negotiations have been going on since before the new call center opened. He says a federal mediator has come in previously to help come to a contract agreement. The next negotiation meeting is on July 9.