AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The Richmond County 911 Communications Center is experiencing a staffing shortage and looking for qualified people to join their team.
At the call center, there are 911 operators who strictly answer the phones, and there are communications officers whose role is to answer phones and dispatch first responders.
“These are the first first responders. So whenever you make a 911 call, they’re the first person you make contact with,” director of Richmond County 911 Communications Center, Daniel Dunlap said.
Both positions are understaffed, but they’re in critical need of dispatchers. To be fully staffed, the center needs 15 employees on each shift.
“We do have a minimum staffing number. Luckily for us, we haven’t approached that, but at the same time, if we continue the way we are right now, we’re going to get to that position pretty quickly,” Dunlap said.
Nationally, 911 communication centers struggle with a high turnover rate.
“It’s tough to fill those positions,” Dunlap said. “So if it’s the pandemic and the things that we’re facing from that, to other places who are offering a higher salary, or maybe even a sign on bonus.”
The profession takes an especially talented person, like assistant shift manager Jessica Wright, who has been with the call center for almost nine years.
“I think first and foremost, you really do need to be empathetic in order to do this job effectively. And not judge. You can’t be judgmental because you have to remember when they’re calling, that’s their worst day. To you it’s just another day, but that’s the worst moment of their life,” Wright said.
“Patience is another one,” Dunlap continued. “You have to think that we can go from hours of boredom to minutes of chaos.”
It’s a huge responsibility to work at Richmond County 911 Communications Center, and Wright says it’s a job for someone who wants to make a difference in their community.
“Whoever is thinking about coming into this profession, just take it seriously. Because what we do here is serious,” Wright said.