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Boston 911 worker decides it’s time to call it quits

February 13, 2022

At understaffed Boston 911 call center, too many workers are hanging it up. The ranks of the call-takers alone have fallen from more than 60 down to about 45.

Bria Tiro’s life has gone to the dogs — but that’s just fine with her. She’s moved on from her call-taker job at the Boston Police Department to start her own dog-related business, called Training With Bria.
At one point, she loved her job as a call-taker at the Boston Police Department, where she worked for six and a-half years. Even before the pandemic, the department was short-staffed, she said.
As a result, call-takers could be asked to stay on for a whole additional eight-hour shift. As a result, BPD management was not at all prepared to deal with the mushrooming COVID-19 crisis.
In general, at Boston's understaffed 911 call center, which Local 888 represents, too many workers are hanging it up.
Tiro told WGBH-FM (89.7): “And then the pandemic hit and people were calling out (sick) left and right, whether it was because they were exposed or they had COVID,” she said. “I mean, there just were not enough bodies to sit in chairs and take 911 calls, and because of that, we had to be held over way more than normal. And it truly just became exhausting.”
The virus spread rapidly through the 911 call center, with everyone sitting in the same area. Tiro got COVID herself last winter, and was out of work for a couple weeks.
What was particularly scary, she told WGBH, was “that people were most likely getting it from each other, and then we were taking it home to our families.”
Her love for the work began to evaporate.
“I can’t really pinpoint when it was, but I know I just didn’t feel the same anymore,” she said. “I know I still love to help people. But I wasn’t feeling joy anymore.”
Tiro is just one example of the high attrition rate that has slammed the call-takers and the dispatchers, a related but separate job category. The number of dispatchers, once pegged at 42, has fallen down to 26. So the dispatchers, like the call-takers, have been forced to work excessive double shifts.
Similarly, the ranks of the call-takers have fallen from more than 60 down to about 45.
As a result, Local 888 is calling on the city of Boston to do more to retain and recruit both 911 dispatchers and call-takers as their numbers have thinned to dangerous levels. See for more Spark coverage.