Oahu’s 911 dispatchers are answering the call during COVID-19 crisis

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic emergency dispatchers have seen a rise in some types...
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic emergency dispatchers have seen a rise in some types of 911 calls and a drop in others.(Courtesy: Honolulu Police Department)
Published: Apr. 17, 2020 at 3:50 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 17, 2020 at 3:52 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Even as the state’s daily total of positive coronavirus cases drops, coronavirus-related calls to Honolulu Emergency Services dispatchers show no sign of slowing down.

Dispatchers are taking 80 to 100 a day, on average.

"Now we screen every single call regardless if it's a medical, a trauma call, to make sure that we are able to provide the proper protection for our crews responding," dispatcher Shawna Delos Santos said.

Callers are asked about recent travel, if they’ve been exposed to anyone who’s traveled or who has had flu-like symptoms.

Meantime, fire department dispatchers said the calls for certain types of emergencies have gone down.

“Because a lot of the public is told to stay home, water rescues and mountains incidents seem to have gone down a lot, and also auto accidents,” said Capt. Micah Komine, of the HFD Communications Center.

With fewer drivers on the road Honolulu, police dispatchers are also fielding fewer accident calls. But they have seen a slight increase in domestic disturbance emergencies.

Veteran police radio dispatcher Bobbie Waialae said officers are alerted if any call has a coronavirus connection.

“When we take the information from the callers it’s basically to get the information we need to prepare them. We’re the eyes for them before they get there, so we want to make sure that they’re safe and aware,” she said.

During the pandemic city lifeguards are in trucks not towers, but Ocean Safety dispatcher Lt. Norman Skorge said crews can get to 911 calls rapidly.

He urges people to comply with stay at home orders.

"If you go surfing come right back in. Don't congregate and talk story afterwards," he said.

To keep Oahu’s 911 lines open for emergency calls, if you have questions about COVID-19 or the city’s stay-at-home order call the city’s information hotline at 768-2489 or go to oneoahu.org.

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