NPR Article Features Tioga/Potter County Dispatchers: Emergency Services Stretched in PA’s Top Drilling Counties

Emergency services in drilling-heavy Pennsylvania counties face a troubling paradox: As permanent population fell, 911 call activity has spiked —  by as high as 46 percent, in one case.

The rise in emergency calls is part of a long-term trend for Tioga County, where more than 130 drilling wells are active. Before drilling took off, the county’s 911 incidents had been steadily decreasing. Tioga handled 19,446 emergency incidents in 2007. That number jumped nearly 30 percent, to 25,155, by 2009. (There’s no 2008 data, due to a change in the county’s tracking software.)

Lisa Rice, who runs Tioga County’s 911 center, said many of the calls stem from the heavy trucks clogging the county’s roads. “We’re seeing more accidents involving large rigs,” she said. “Tractor trailers, dump trucks. Vehicles – tractor trailers hauling hazardous materials. Those are things, two years ago, that we weren’t dealing with on a daily basis. It was more two-car accidents.”

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