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Lone Dispatcher Handled Propane Railcar Incident

The city of Lincoln (N. Calif.) was the country’s fastest-growing at the 2010 census, but its budget leaves it with only enough money to staff one on-duty dispatcher at all times. So when 911 calls started ringing in last month to report a leaking propane railcar had caught fire, only Lincoln dispatcher Teri Leedy was in the comm center to field the calls and dispatch emergency units. She quickly notified the city’s police and fire departments, coordinated the response of surrounding agencies, and sent EMS units to treat a propane facility worker who injured by the initial explosion. The fire chief and interim police chief credited Leedy’s experience as one factor in the safe handling of the incident that forced the evacuation of 4,800 of the town’s residents over two days. Fire chief Dave Whitt added that the city should have at least two dispatchers on duty at all times, and that many 911 calls were never answered because Leedy was busy coordinating emergency units. Read more about the incident here.

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