Midland, TEXAS (ABC BIG 2/FOX 24) – As the City of Midland grows, there’s a need to add 911 dispatchers.
” We get major accidents because of all the traffic, crime has picked up a little bit, so we just need staffing to be able to accommodate the city and their needs,” says Public Safety Communications Technical Coordinator Lydia Marquez.
Right now, they’re understaffed and actively hiring for ten people to join their team. It can be a tough job, since these dispatchers cover a lot of ground.
” Because we’re a combined center, we dispatch for the police department, the sheriff’s department, fire and EMS. We have to– all of our dispatchers have to be cross-trained on all of those consoles,” says Marquez.
The team has to learn to multitask, dispatching first responders, and answering calls that come in. Sometimes, especially without a full staff, it can be tough.
“There will be instances where there will be a wreck on I-20. Everybody who sees the wreck is calling 911 at the same time. So yeah, there may not be enough dispatchers to answer the call volume that’s coming in at that particular time. So what we do is we try to–well we will call–every single number back in a timely manner to see what their emergency was,” says Marquez.
While it’s critical not to assume that somebody else will call for help—those with the communications center want to ensure that callers are reaching out to them for a true emergency.
“If it’s a non-emergency situation and it could be handled by the non-emergency number, I would ask that they call that number instead of calling 911,” says Marquez.
And there are a few reasons the team is low on staff.
“The hours. Our dispatchers work 12-hour days, that’s just the minimum requirement for them. They’ll work anything from 16-hour days. We have mandatory overtime, mandatory on call. And that can get stressful, you can get burnout. Dispatch burnout is a huge thing, nationwide,” says Marquez.
The dispatch leader I talked to says that it’s a difficult, but rewarding job. It takes about a year to train a person to be a dispatcher. If you’d like to apply for a job, you can click here.