When you dial 911, it's often because of an emergency. But a shortage of dispatchers, could mean it's going to take longer to get an operator on the line.
Paula Newman answers emergency calls. She says because of the dispatcher shortage - when there are major events like fires - it may take longer for people to get through.
At the Regional Emergency Communications Center where 911 and non-emergency calls come in, 17 positions are open. That's meant mandatory overtime and lengthy shifts. Here, twelve hour shifts are the minimum.
The center now wants to over-hire and recruit 20 people to answer calls, preferably before a November training academy. A new public service announcement is even now airing on a local cable channel.
Being a dispatcher can be stressful - dealing with life and death situations. It may be one of the reasons for the shortage. And a supervisor says there's also the odd hours.
But it's helping people in those emergency situations that makes the job all worth it.
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Joe Harrington KOLO 8 News