A Single Bedbug Wreaks Havoc at Allegheny County’s 911 Dispatch Center

Call center officials moved Allegheny County’s 911 dispatchers to new quarters after one of them found a bedbug at the county’s call center in Pittsburgh. The dispatcher discovered the insect on Friday, August 14, 2015, and the county paid a pest control company $12,000 to set 140 traps over the weekend. They did not discover any more bedbugs, however.

911 dispatchers are now working out of a variety of backup locations including a training room inside the headquarters, Pittsburgh’s old dispatch center, and mobile command trailers. Amid concerns about the condition of the old dispatch center, union leaders toured the facilities and cleared it. They did think it was insufficient, because it was too small.

A woman who worked for a different department in the same building as the call center claimed to have been bitten by a bedbug over the weekend, but the county has not yet confirmed that the bite was due to a bedbug. The county is taking precautions and working with the building’s property manager to ensure that the whole building is thoroughly treated.

Crews are treating the building along with cleaning workstations and other pieces of equipment. This process will cost $33,000, but it was budgeted and scheduled for later this year.

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An urban entomologist from Virginia Tech stated that the magnitude of the response to a single bedbug was “ridiculous.” Dini Miller referred to the county’s decision making as “hysteria” in an interview with Trib Live News. She suggested that the county set up $5 monitors to see if there are any more insects. She also cautioned that bedbugs have become resistant to many of the insecticides used to treat them.

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