911 dispatchers fired for drinking alcoholic shot on New Year’s Eve

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Lots of people who work non-traditional hours find themselves on the job when most others are off, like on New Year's Eve.

For some, toasting to the New Year in the office may not be a big deal, but some 911 dispatchers in Allentown thought wrong.

"That is a black and white issue. It is not a gray," Phillips Armstrong, the Lehigh County Executive told WFMZ.

Armstrong said what happened at the county communications center can never be tolerated.

"If something like that would happen later, and we said 'well, this time we only did a suspension,' well then you didn't really say that this is not allowed," said Armstrong.

According to multiple sources, on New Year’s Eve, a 911 supervisor brought in an eggnog drink containing rum and then ten workers, three supervisors and seven 911 dispatchers took a shot at midnight.

One source said it amounted to "half a shot" per person.

Then, everyone went back to work.

Rick Molchany, the Director of General Services, said once management found out, they deliberated over it for weeks.

He said they didn't let the fact that the night shift usually deals with the brunt of the emergency calls factor in to the decision.

"We could play that game forever. The reality is I don't want to play that cause that's unfair. It's unfair to our staff that we have that are first class that do their jobs day in and day out and working together with police, fire and EMS," said Molchany.

The Lehigh County Communications Center has been dispatching emergency services calls for the city of Allentown and the rest of the county since last summer.

The incident cost ten dispatchers their jobs.

The remaining workers are covering their shifts with mandatory overtime until new employees can be hired.