DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Davidson County leaders are considering changes to the dispatcher training academy to get new hires on the floor faster in the 911 center.
Currently, the county has between four to five employees taking calls on each shift. County Manager Casey Smith told FOX8 that ideally, there would be eight.
“It is low. There’s no doubt it is low,” he said Tuesday. “We are taking the issue very seriously in terms of the staffing.”
The county is actively recruiting for five vacant positions. There are eight new hires in a twelve-week training academy that’s expected to be finished in a few weeks.
“We feel like probably the way the economy is going and the way the world is changed coming out of the pandemic, we may end up having a lot more turnover, not just in telecommunicator jobs but in other jobs in the county,” Smith said.
He said the county has also assigned on-call roles to supplement amid shortages.
So far in 2022, the county has paid 911 employees more than $81,000 in overtime. In 2021, dispatchers earned nearly $297,000 in overtime.
Smith said the shortage has not impacted response times, and dispatchers answer calls within 10 seconds 90% of the time.
“These trainees will get the numbers back up. We’ll still have to rely on some on-call. But if we’re four to five per shift with the on-call with the trainees being mixed in, hopefully, we can get back to six to seven.”
County officials are considering shortening training to six weeks to get more employees ready to answer your calls for help.
“Shortening the time frame but not doing it in a way that harms the amount of training you need to do the job but maybe not making it quite as burdensome, so we can have folks come in and out of the academy…it’s going to play a big role and be a big help,” Smith said.
Alamance County is looking to hire one full-time telecommunicator, and Forsyth County needs four.
Randolph County plans to hire four full-time dispatchers as well.