Jefferson County emergency responders will increase staffing on ‘eclipse day’

HOUSE SPRINGS, Mo. – Emergency crews in Jefferson County have been gearing up for the Great American Eclipse.

911 folks plan to more than double the number of dispatchers on that day.

“We want to be prepared for the worst,” said Chief Travis Williams, head of the 911 Jefferson County Dispatch.

Seven dispatchers were working the day shift Monday answering almost all the calls for help in the county. Dispatchers know the population could double on eclipse day, so they are increasing the number of dispatchers to as many as 16.

“So your ambulances might be more busy, hospitals will be busy, with the additional people in the county, transporting people to the hospital might be more difficult,” Williams said.

The 911 system tells them the address where residents are calling from, they can also easily find someone who comes from out of state and make a cell phone call for help.

“We can actually triangulate that device and get x-y coordinate or GPS coordinate and get an estimated address of where that call is being placed,” Williams said.

Just down the road at the Hillsboro Fire Protection District, they may more than triple the number of people working on the day of the eclipse.

“The traffic issues are potentially some of our major concerns,” Hillsboro Fire Protection District Assistant Chief Brian Gaudet said. “How are we going to get to the call when somebody calls 911?”

Gaudet said they will have an off-road vehicle to use if necessary. Gaudet advised people to leave their homes early if they plan to come watch the eclipse at one of the many events in Jefferson County.