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July 20, 2024

Iroquois Co. 911 dispatcher risked lives!

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On July 2, 2014


What would you do if you called 911 and ask for the Fire Department for a Hazardous Material situation and found out they mocked your occupation level, experience, and failed to dispatch the very agency you asked for on the initial call? 

This is the first of several exposures to come as it relates to County Emergency Telephone System Boards (ETSB), their directors, and the dispatchers on the front line as the key communication point to the public in need of emergency assistance.

Dispatchers use a computer-aided dispatch system, receive emergency calls from the public requesting police, fire, medical or other emergency services.   They “should” determine the nature and location of the emergency; determine priorities, and dispatch police, fire ambulance or other emergency units as necessary and in accordance with established procedures.

Clearly when a call comes in and the caller specifically requests the Fire Department for a chemical release they should dispatch the closest Fire Department at a minimum.

The dispatcher is not there to make a decision as to how bad the leak is or if the requested agencies are really needed.  They are there to dispatch the closest agency requested, and in this particular case they failed miserably and should be held accountable.

The opening question is exactly what happen in Iroquois County a few years ago and we have obtained a copy of all those communications for all to hear and judge for themselves.

Having worked in Emergency Services for 25+ years to include currently holding the position as Fire Chief and EMT responding to emergency calls regularly, I was floored when I listen to this particular call.  The person who took this 911 call would be fired in most parts of the country for this kind of a failure. The Director of ETSB should be relieved from her post for failing to establish sound protocols for the dispatchers to utilize for 911 calls.  That failure put lives at risk!  

Key points to know and listen for:

  • The caller, although a part time employee at the time of the call was actually the plant manager for 30 years and had recently retired and was filling in part time to help out.  (30+ years of experience!)
  • Dispatcher DID NOT call the Fire Department as requested
  • Dispatcher was told the plant was SOUTH of Cisna Park yet he reports later in the call it was NORTH of Cisna Park.
  • Dispatcher mocks the caller with implications that since he is a part time employee he is stupid.
  • Dispatcher brags about his knowledge of this type of chemical release and downplayed the risk involved.
  • The tank size was reported to us as a 30,000 gallon Anhydrous Ammonia tank.

Over a MILE of residents were evacuated because of this chemical release!

From our understanding, with divine intervention, no one was seriously injured in this chemical spill that was downplayed by the dispatcher who failed to provide the very emergency agency requested until much later in the call when it became clear he screwed up!  Note at the end of this communication it appears he knows there is a problem with his actions!

What was ever done to these people who failed the public?  If you know who the dispatcher was and what actions were taken please let us know for further reporting!


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  • Barb
    Posted at 15:02h, 02 July Reply

    I wish I could help you out on who the dispatcher was. If I knew possibly what year this was that might help me. Also, the part-time caller was not “irate” as this dispatcher stated. He was frustrated with the dispatcher’s lack of concern and urgency. The dispatcher should “NEVER” had taken the position to have know what kind of emergency this was since he was not there on the property and he did belittle the caller. This was handled in a very unprofessional manner. Thanks Watch Dogs for bringing this to the public’s attention!!!!

  • Alisha
    Posted at 17:17h, 02 July Reply

    What about having to call “911” numerous times because no one picks up the phone

  • Brice
    Posted at 20:53h, 02 July Reply

    As someone who works around anhydrous ammonia and also knowing the individuals that called 911 this is scary to listen to. The employee, part time or not, has been trained to operate around and respond to anhydrous. Most and even maybe all of employees at fertilizer plants have training with this fertilizer to prevent these problems. I do not take for granted the training and protocol of the 911 dispatcher, but if the dispatcher did have knowledge of anhydrous ammonia then the fact that an employee working with it called for assistance should have been enough evidence that assistance is needed. I understand that there are instances where a valve will leak a little from changing temps or attempted theft, and then usually an employee on the emergency contact list is called and taken care of, but a lot of time that may have been needed to save lives was wasted due to arrogance and poor decision making.

  • candy apple
    Posted at 22:44h, 02 July Reply


    EDITOR’S NOTE: Since you seem to know so much, you should already know the records have been requested thru FOIA and an article will be published upon review of requested records. Once it is published you are welcome to comment on that subject.

    • candy apple
      Posted at 13:09h, 03 July Reply

      Are you serious? Let’s not be biased? ? Your whole website is bases on bias. If nothing your responses and not accepting my comments are very entertaining.

      • Kirk Allen
        Posted at 15:07h, 03 July Reply

        We did you a favor by editing out your slander. Had we left your comment the family of the deceased would have been put through more emotional pain based on a lie. The dispatchers actions or inaction had NOTHING to do with the death. You also could have been open for a clear case of slander as you claim had no foundation in fact. If you have documentation to disprove a single story then share it. Otherwise you are rapidly approaching being permanently banned. You spew lies continuously and accusations we are making things up yet not once has a single article been dis-proven. Time to pull up your panties and be a big girl.

  • Miffy
    Posted at 23:12h, 02 July Reply

    Sounded like Ryan Bells voice

  • David
    Posted at 23:15h, 02 July Reply

    That’s Ryan Bells voice

  • Old
    Posted at 00:32h, 03 July Reply

    So, who would have been responsible if there had been a serious injury or death because of dispatchers lack of professionalism? I have seen what a leak can do to farm ground. It took five to ten years for a half acre of ground to come baack to production. Think what it would do to a persons lungs. Fire departments are suppose to have training in handleing these types of emergencies. I hope this person is not with the 911system any longer. He’s dangerous.

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 02:39h, 03 July Reply

    First I will say you have one bad fact about the location reported in this story. The caller stated the valve was on the south side of the tank and the tank was on the north of the complex at the location …this needs to be corrected.
    I do not condone the actions that were taken during this incident. The dispatcher and officers involved were unprofessional and need to have corrective measures taken. The director also should be reviewed as she has been on duty too many years to think this policy is ok. If you have a hazmat facility calling 911 they should not be expected to be able handle all situations on their own. Thus when they call it should be an automatic red flag situation until confirmed otherwise.
    This is a farming county and I am sure many recognize the voices on the recording. They should be ashamed of themselves and actions should be taken if they have not been. I spent 11 years working on a fire dept in that county before I relocated and never did I see such a disregard for public safety as was demonstrated with this group of individuals.

  • Kirk Allen
    Posted at 09:32h, 03 July Reply

    So now Candy Apple WANTS coverage of Edgar County issues? Rest assured those issues will be covered and we will expose what was left out in the attacks placed by certain people in our 911 system. The facts are crystal clear and when the “whole” story comes out another person should be removed from office as well! And I will enjoy writing that article as I was the very first EMT on the scene and know exactly what happen and its not what you claimed.

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 09:54h, 03 July Reply

    Having worked with that PART-TIME employee for 7yrs at another plant before the caller’s retirement after 30 yrs of working for F.S He did exactly as we were all told to do. The dispatcher, was in the wrong so many ways. Not only him but the officers, they need to remember they are professional or suppose to be! Also people can hear these recordings! Phil acted as he should have with the care of others well being at hand. My experience with Anhydrous is not a good one and thinking someone could have been seriously hurt because of a pompous ass dispatcher. And the asinine remarks is infuriating! More questions on the dispatchers part should have been asked, and he should have listened, Phil gave the correct address, and the location of the tank that is there at the lot. The dispatcher got it turned around. I think there are some people that needs further training in hazardous stations and also to act professionally on a radio.

  • Paul
    Posted at 10:16h, 03 July Reply

    When the 911 system was first implemented in Iroquois county and the address placards were distributed mine and a couple of others on my road were wrong. The road is one coordinate at the south end end of the mile and another at the north end because it follow the river. The post office had already issued us correct coordinates but he 911 ones were wrong. it took me several phone calls to various people to get this corrected. Originally I was told to contact the post office and have them change their coordinates.

  • Tax Payer
    Posted at 11:01h, 03 July Reply

    What an ass!! He put peoples lives at risk being a judgemental, know-it-all jerk!!

  • anonymous
    Posted at 12:57h, 03 July Reply

    Ryan Bell was the dispatcher

    • anonymous
      Posted at 16:16h, 03 July Reply

      The names from the recording are dispatcher Mark, Ryan, officer Rechis(prob spelled wrong), and etsb 911 coordinator Nita Dubble. Dispatcher Bell was not the only person who was working this call … we need to keep that in mind to be fair.

  • Steve
    Posted at 17:10h, 03 July Reply

    It was unprofessional and there is no good excuse. If there is a pattern of 911 neglect I’m more concerned than if this is a one-off by a part-timer years ago.

    From Green Acres, Season 1, episode 17 (1966):

    Uncle Joe Carson: I say a man can’t fight fire unless he can play a marching instrument.
    Oliver Wendell Douglas: That doesn’t make sense!
    Uncle Joe Carson: Well it does around here. We have more parades than fires.
    Oliver Wendell Douglas: Now how do I go about joining?
    Uncle Joe Carson: You gotta talk to the fire chief.
    Oliver Wendell Douglas: Well allright, now who’s the…
    [notices Uncle Joe is putting on a fire helmet]
    Oliver Wendell Douglas: … are you the chief?
    Uncle Joe Carson: I ain’t wearing this white helmet to match my shoes.

  • Anne schoolman
    Posted at 09:23h, 04 July Reply

    Wow….just no words 🙁 SOOOO many lies to Nita, and dispatcher JUST needed to page out Fire DEPT… lucky no one died…..anhydrous is dangerous no matter what….can’t believe dispatcher claimed to KNOW anything….what an idiot 🙁

  • Leanne Scott
    Posted at 11:42h, 07 July Reply

    Neither of these dispatchers are employed by ICOM any longer. This is not the fault of anyone but those two individuals. There are protocols in place that were not followed. How old is this recording? So you can find one instance where two dispatchers (no longer employed) mishandled a call by not doing what they were taught to do. They were reprimanded and apologized to the appropriate people. Again, they chose not to follow the protocol. When you can control every person you employ on every call or decision they make, then you can begin to judge. So ridiculously biased and only telling the portion of the story that sounds bad and makes your website all that much trashier. I read it for entertainment, it’s kinda like a soap opera. Thanks for the good laughs. I can’t wait to read your one sided response! And now you want to know their names? Why, so you can kick a dead horse? You must be quite a person to just live to find fault and bad in everything. Must be nice to be you and have never made a mistake…..

    • Kirk Allen
      Posted at 20:34h, 07 July Reply

      Wrong again Larry. I believe the Paxton Record confirmed they were never disciplined. You clearly don’t know Emergency Services. The protocols in place was to NOT call the Fire department. The protocols changed because of that call. How stupid are you?

  • LeAnne Scott
    Posted at 08:51h, 08 July Reply

    Again, I am LeAnne, not afraid to put my name. And again, the truth is the whole truth, not just the part you want to tell. This was five years ago and they no longer work there. Judging something in the past is pretty simple. That is what you’re doing, you are judging. Call the appropriate people and find out what really happened. Call the 30 year employee and ask him what was done afterward…. Quit getting second hand information. Get the facts, and the truth will be seen. This was horrible and anyone would say they are relieved nothing worse happened. Call the appropriate people and find out what the protocols are now. Things unfortunately will go wrong, the real problem is when the problems don’t get fixed, this was.
    I’m happy for you that you are apparently perfect. 🙂
    We all know it’s easy to look back and see the problems crystal clear. Five years ago….. No one was hurt, mistakes were made, changes were made. What more do you want? You don’t fire someone for one mistake, or better yet, blame someone that didn’t handle the call. No one can control the actions of everyone.

  • LeAnne Scott
    Posted at 10:07h, 09 July Reply

    And by the way, I am not stupid. I love it how you bully and name call when you have nothing else to say. Every comment you make you love to demean and slander people. Pretty cool.

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 11:40h, 09 July Reply

      Slander: a false spoken statement. The key words are 1) false, and 2) spoken.

  • Kirk Allen
    Posted at 12:51h, 09 July Reply

    LeAnne, you are either ignorant or stupid. You take a position of stupidity when it comes to emergency services and claim the dispatchers made a mistake. I contend the protocol was the mistake more than anything. The protocol they referenced is what could have got someone killed. Protocols are not something one person creates. A board adopts those and if the board was so stupid to have a protocol that directed the dispatcher to do what he did they should all be fired. It was not second hand information. It was the actual recording of the call. That is first hand. According to some of those I have talked with, nothing has changed. I don’t claim to be perfect and I have made many mistakes. Its not the mistakes that people make that make things bad as much as how they deal with those mistakes after they are made. ANYONE that was involved with the creation of a protocol that ignores a callers request for an agency should be fired.

  • LeAnne Scott
    Posted at 14:00h, 09 July Reply

    Well, I suppose if everything everywhere was perfect to begin with we wouldn’t need boards or bosses or protocols or people in charge. It could have gotten someone killed, come one, now are you going to go around and find every instance where someone “could” have gotten killed due to improper protocol? The protocol may have been improper, but it was CORRECTED IMMEDIATELY and thankfully no one was hurt. When I say first hand I mean talk to the man who called this in. He received a letter and was apologized to several times. No, that does not fix the fact something wrong happend, however; something went wrong, it was fixed and apologies were made. And it’s very humorous that the recording was released anonamously through a website that removed it as soon as they realized what it was. So you call that first hand?? You don’t even know who released the audio, or do you?? 🙂 The person/people releasing it were/are too afraid to admit it. How can you call somethin first hand when you don’t even really know who put it out there??? Why on earth are you rehashing something that happened over five years ago??? Polices are constantly reviewed and revised anywhere I have ever worked. And you say it’s how they deal with the mistakes after they are made… Apolgies, letters, revised policies… oh wait, you wanted someone fired. They don’t work there anymore. You can look back and tell everyone how perfect you would have done it, but boy isn’t that easy. Lets move forward, as in like quit looking for things to complain about from over five years ago. I have had to call 911 and live in Iroquois County and they are the most professional helpful people I have ever talked with. And if people can’t own up to the infomation they are putting out there, shame on those chickens!! And again, sure is easy to look back and say how you would have handled it.

    • Kirk Allen
      Posted at 17:44h, 09 July Reply

      Who said anything about it being release anonymously through a web site? I got it directly from a public official. I would NEVER post something without knowing the source. We posted it. It HAS NOT been removed. It has NEVER been removed and if you click on the PLAY button is still works. If it doesn’t work for you then maybe you have a browser issue. We know for a FACT it’s first hand. Its the very 911 recorded traffic. Who the recording came from has no bearing on the facts of the story. Yes, someone should have been fired. The very people who wrote the protocol in the first place. I train Emergency personnel all over the country and this is by far the worst I have seen when it comes to protocol screw ups. I have seen people fired for far less. I don’t fault the dispatcher for following protocol. I fault him for the unprofessional comments that clearly were out of line. You talk about them not being their anymore as if that fixed it. They received ZERO discipline over this according to reports exposed by the Paxton Record.

  • caseih 2388
    Posted at 23:40h, 09 July Reply

    There is a big problem in the 911 system. They are out of money, complaining about losing dispatchers due to low pay all the while management is receiving large salaries, obscene benefits, and ridiculously generous contract terms. It’s almost like the board is spending someone else’s money instead of their own. (Wait, they are. It’s the taxpayers’ money.)

    The big problem now is the bull headedness of the 911 board/ETSB board (or whatever it is called) and the director. This is the same situation that ultimately caused the reorganization of the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department. They also thought they could run the show anyway they pleased and had to answer to no one. I have news for them. They are ultimately answerable to the taxpayers. And the representatives of the taxpayers are the Iroquois County Board.

    From what I can see the county board is made up of a majority of members who are determined to do the right thing for their constituents. The majority seem to be moral, right thinking people who are determined that the law be obeyed, and it is not at the present time. The coffee shop talk is that the chairman of the county board is going to take over 911. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that he has one vote just like the rest of the members. He may take the lead but it is at the pleasure of the county board as a whole.

    If the present 911/ETSB board (or whatever) doesn’t change its bullheaded attitude some of them may be replaced just like happened with the health department board. I don’t know if this can or will happen, but if I were on that board I would start acting like a team player instead of the 911 director’s support team. I frankly think there are some reasonable people on the 911 and ETSB board or boards. They just seem to be overly influenced by the director and the rest of the board members.

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