Bed bug problem reported at Portsmouth police dispatch center

Posted at 10:34 AM, Oct 10, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-10 17:27:02-04

Portsmouth, Va. - A bed bug problem has been reported at the Portsmouth 911 Communications Center (dispatch center), according to Portsmouth City officials.

Below is an email from Dennis Bagley, Director of General Services, sent last night to the Portsmouth City Manager pertaining to the bed bug problem at the 911 Communications Center (Dispatch Center). Officials tell NewsChannel 3 that Bagley and his team have developed a very detailed plan to address the problem discovered on Thursday, October 9.

See below:

Good Evening Mr. Rowe,
The purpose of this e-mail is to make you aware that we have detected the presence of Bed Bugs in the 911 Communication Center located on the second floor of 309 County Street. We have been working most of the day to confirm the type of bug we were dealing with and develop a plan of action to eradicate. As of this evening we have positively identified the insects found in the communication center as Bed Bugs. The 911 Center performs a critical function and operates 24 hours a day / 7 days a week; therefore, we have been working closely with the Police Department to develop a strategy to relocate the 911 center to our back-up site for a 24 hour period in order to use the chemicals needed to eradicate the Bed Bugs without negatively affecting the 911 dispatchers. We have made plans to transfer operations of our 911 dispatchers to our back-up site located at the Rivershore Road Fire Station at 4:00 AM on Wednesday October 15th. We plan to switch our 911 lines back to the main site at 307 County Street at 7:00 AM on Thursday October 16th. There are two reason that we are waiting until the 15th to treat the facility. First of all, bed Bugs are “Hitchhikers” meaning they cling to clothes and personal belongings and are carried from one place to another by humans. Because of this fact we must take a series of preliminary steps prior to treatment to ensure that our eradication efforts are successful. Secondly, we need time to plan for an orderly transfer of 911 lines from one location to the other to make certain we maintain our 911 lines without interruption. As a back-up measure we will be notifying surrounding Cities of our intention to switch to our back-up site on October 15th and will be requesting that they be prepared to assist us if we have any trouble during the transfer of 911 calls.

I want to ensure you that we are making every effort to maintain an open line of communication with the 911 dispatchers so that “they know what we know”. It is critical that we make certain that our employees understand what we are doing to resolve this issue. We have scheduled several meetings with our dispatchers tomorrow to inform them of the issue and explain how we plan to respond. It is also important that our dispatchers understand that the Bed Bugs are being brought to the 911 center by employees from their homes. In order to completely eradicate the Bed Bugs employees will need to take steps to make certain they do not transfer them from home to work or from work to home. We will be providing sealed plastic containers to each affected employee so that they can place personal items in the containers while at work. We have also negotiated a cut rate price from our pest control company if employees wish to have their personal homes treated. In addition, we will be providing all dispatchers with proven strategies that they can use themselves to minimize or eliminate the presence of these bugs in their homes without paying a pest control company for treatment. Because of the number of dispatchers and their work schedules, we may not be able to personally speak with each of them tomorrow. We will provide Captain Kim Wilson of the PPD an e-mail outlining everything we will be discussing in our meetings tomorrow. Captain Wilson will provide the written information to all affected employees who are unable to attend tomorrow’s meetings.

It is important to know that Bed Bugs do not carry disease and pose virtually no health risk at all. We were informed by an industry expert today that being bitten by a mosquito is much more likely to cause an illness than being bitten by a Bed Bug. Having said that I want to be clear that we are taking this issue seriously and are taking the necessary steps to resolve this as quickly as possible. We are trying to balance the need to eradicate these pests swiftly with the importance of maintaining our 911 operation without any interruption.

For your information I am attaching several documents for your review regarding our plan of action as well as helpful hints in preventing the spread of Bed Bugs. If you have any questions please do not hesitate calling me. Thanks!