NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco Fire Rescue officials have suspended a 911 supervisor for falling asleep on the job.
Officials say dispatch center supervisor Phillip Goodman fell asleep at least twice over the past month and is responsible for other lapses, from allowing his girlfriend to hang out in the center to leaving his post for extended periods. He was suspended Sunday.
Assistant Fire Chief Cynthia Holland said she was dismayed at hearing the reports.
"Our employees work very hard to provide excellent service to Pasco County's citizens and when something like this happens, it takes away from all the hard work they do," she said.
Officials are investigating and Goodman could be fired. He was expected to undergo a medical evaluation to determine whether a physical ailment contributed to his nodding off.
Goodman started at the dispatch center in November 2007. He is assigned to the 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift, supervising at least four 911 operators and dispatchers. When call volume is heavy, he may also step in to field calls.
On nights when Goodman slept, the call volume was not high enough to require him to take calls, Holland said. "We have no reports that 911 calls were being missed because of this, absolutely not."
The investigation comes as Pasco braces for big changes in its 911 operations. The county plans to consolidate its Sheriff's Office and Fire Rescue dispatch operations and hire a communications administrator.
"It's very frustrating," Pasco Administrator Michele Baker said, adding that officials are trying to learn "whether something in the environment or the protocols need to be changed."
This wasn't the first time a dispatcher has fallen asleep at work. The last incident occurred a few years ago.
Goodman was cited July 10 for sleeping, taking extended breaks and having his girlfriend at work. Then he was cited again for sleeping, Holland said.
Dispatchers are entitled to brief breaks, and visitors are allowed into the dispatch center, such as to drop off a meal, but they're not permitted to remain there.
"In this case, the length of time she was there was a little longer than it should have been," she said.
Rich Shopes can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6236.