KINGSHILL — A St. Croix senator says he has “concerns” now that 911 operators from Ohio have been brought in to help temporarily due to worker shortages locally.
“Last week I communicated with the governor’s office about reports of improper disciplinary actions within VITEMA and 911 dispatch in particular,” Senator Kenneth Gittens said. “Just a few days later I learned, first through social media, that ten 911 operators had been brought in from Ohio to help field emergency calls here in the territory in both districts, given the number of local operators who have been impacted by COVID-19.”
Senator Gittens continued:
“Of course we must, guarantee that all calls to 911 are answered, but there is a larger issue in play in terms of ensuring the Virgin Islands government is doing its part to attract, maintain and retain properly trained local employees,” he said. “I am also very concerned about the cost of bringing in personnel from outside the territory.”
“This is a proactive move on the part of our Government and I certainly appreciate the personnel from Ohio that are willing to lend a hand. However, coronavirus is not the only issue,” Gittens said. “We also have local operators who have been suspended without due process and others who have left the job because of ongoing morale concerns.”
“Dispatchers from outside the territory may be well-trained, but can never truly replace a locally based 911 operator because of their intimate knowledge of the community,” he said. “Most people that call 911 are under a considerable amount of stress and important details of the emergency or directions may be misunderstood or misinterpreted by someone who is unfamiliar. Those intimately familiar with the territory are much better prepared to serve in this critical capacity and are invaluable.”
Reaction to this Virgin Islands Free Press news article was split on social media.
“We should consider bringing in Senators ‘from Outside,'” Muck Wesley said.
“He is speaking the truth…. no non local can truly understand locations on island,” Tracy Proctor said. “Stop bringing in non local and find ppl there and train them and pay them the same salary.”
“This is Bullshit, And facts since these folks are here they are doing a awesome job,” Lee Questel said. “Why because they are using technology and GPS, And so far not ah soul has complained about them in the three islands, They also go from state to state to help out ,All who complaining is fools who just don’t want to see our Islands get better ,And the stupid senator left his island to come here to talk crap, The Governor had some common sense ,he hired a CO from the mainland to run WAPA Why because we the people have suffered enough, and just remember these people are Americans just like ourselves, And the majority of our youth can go freely to the mainland to further their lives and live better if they choose to ,So thank God we PEOPLE WHO ARE AMERICANS BORN IN THE USVI, Can do as they please and go as they please ,Why should the senator object??? We USVI people do not in anyway bother or be a burden to our neighbors down island (palm tree on island emoji). So if y’all got a problem with us and want WAPA or THE FIRST RESPONDERS TO BE RUN BY INCOMPETENT ARSES YEAR AFTER YEAR,U CAN HEAD BACK WEH U COME FROM, The people of these islands deserves nothing but the best, and if it takes our fellow Americans to do so,t hen do it by all means NESESSARY.