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911 Dispatchers Move To Temporary Facilities Due To Bed Bugs

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - A bed bug infestation is forcing Allegheny County 911 dispatchers to work from temporary locations this week.

They began making the move to four temporary sites today, while their offices are treated and cleaned.

Officials are still assessing the costs, but $100,000 is one estimate. They say the transition will be seamless and they're doing something they haven't done since the G-20 conference - setting up mobile command posts to relocate some of the 911 operators.

Some of the 60 operators will be relocated to emergency service trucks outside of their main operation building. Others will be housed in rooms in the main building, while others will be moved to the city's old 911 center in the Strip District.

Typically, they handle 3,000 calls a day.

Allegheny County Chief of Emergency Services Alvin Henderson said his people train for such potential crises all the time. He said there are backup command posts in place should there be any problem.

KDKA-TV's Harold Hayes asked him how he can reassure anyone calling with an emergency won't be able to tell the difference in service.

"We've tested it out countless times," he said. "There's been other activations. For example, if you recall during G-20, we implemented this plan as well. We did not vacate, we just added additional capability. Again, we were able to process those calls utilizing that technology in the same way they will function here this week."

But while the shift change was going on at 2:30 p.m., the service employees union produced for the media a Children Youth and Family Services worker who says she was bitten by a bed bug over the weekend in the main building.

"I was in the office from around noon to approximately 4 o'clock," said Deborah Cooney, the child welfare worker. "It was probably right before 4 o'clock when I started itching and I felt something, and these were all like red, welt-like marks, and I was like scratching really bad. You can't tell me they're not down here."

Allegheny County officials have released this statement regarding the claims:

"We just received notification of this complaint this morning. While we can't know whether it's a bed bug without seeing the insect, we are proactively taking steps, working with the building manager, to ensure that the same treatments occurring at the 911 Center will be done throughout the building."

Officials say the 911 center is scheduled to be back in full operation by the afternoon shift on Friday.

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