911 operators are used to answering calls from people in distress, and they do their best to direct first responders to their destinations with speed and efficiency. But for a 911 call-center in the Bronx the emergency was right under their feet.

Please State the Nature of the Emergency

Beginning in June of this year employees of the Pelham Bay Public Safety Answering Center began to notice something odd about their work environment. Particularly the sixth floor training room. It didn’t take long for the emergency call operators to pinpoint the problem. The training room was crawling with bed bugs.

Sniffer dogs were soon called in and were able to identify areas of the building that were infested with colonies of bed bugs. The dogs found bed bugs in the lobby couches, in vendor areas and in many of the common rooms. It seemed that the Bronx’s 911 Call-Center was well and truly infested with bed bugs.

Spreading Throughout the Building

It didn’t take long for bed bug inspectors and their sniffer dogs to root out the culprits and determine that the bed bugs had spread throughout the first six floors of the building. One employee told the New York Daily News, “Everybody’s being bitten. We’re all jumpy, afraid to touch anything.”

The problem became so severe that the Uniformed Fire Alarm Dispatchers Benevolent Association, the union representing FDNY operators, filed a public employee safety and health complaint with the city. The union also threatened to pull its members out of the Pelham Bay call-center and move them to the Metro-Tech center in Brooklyn.

Responding to the 911 Operator’s 911

The city soon brought in a team of exterminators. However, employees report little to no improvement. As one employee put it, “The only thing they’re really doing is steaming. Once they steam, they pop up somewhere else”. Further proof, if proof were needed, of just how difficult it can be to fully eradicate a full-on bed bug invasion, especially on such a large scale.

Treatment Continues

The city continues to confront the bed bug problem at the Bronx 911 call-center. But it is unclear just how successful their attempt to stem the tide of bed bugs has been. Naturally, the whole ordeal has left employees shaken and rattled. “They’re nervous, they’re walking around scratching themselves thinking there’s something crawling on them,” an exterminator technician said.

Nowhere is Safe from Bed Bugs

The plight of the employees at the Pelham Bay Public Safety Answering Center is further proof that bed bugs can turn up anywhere. It only takes is a stray bed bug or two, brought in on the heels of an employee or visitor, to set in motion a full-scale epidemic.

As of the last reports it is unclear whether or not the Bronx’s 911 call-center’s bed bug problem has been fully eradicated. For the time being, city officials are remaining tight lipped on the subject.