YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — York County’s Office of Emergency Management needs 911 dispatchers to answer calls for help, over a thousand calls coming in every day.
York County 911 spokesperson Ted Czech said the county is short 20 full-time positions in their 911 center, but he also said recruitment is an ongoing project. The county is always trying to hire more people, and they’re not the only ones.
In an emergency, these 911 dispatchers are critical.
“They are the first first responders,” Czech said. “They provide that absolutely vital link between someone who needs help and someone who can provide the help.”
However, Czech said they are not always easy to find. He said it is not quite a shortage the county is facing, but at full strength, the 911 center should have 70 full-time staff. Right now, it has just 50.
“We’re accomplishing everything we need to here at 911, but we’d like to have more dispatchers than we do right now,” Czech said.
This is not just a York County problem.
“There is a need for dispatchers across the country,” Czech said, and that holds true in the Midstate.
Lancaster, Lebanon and Dauphin counties are all hiring. Lebanon County has six positions open. Dauphin has eight.
Czech said being a 911 dispatcher is not an average job.
“The job can be difficult at times and can weigh on you at times,” he said.
It requires a lot of different skills.
“You have to have a passion for wanting to help your community,” Czech said. “Being empathetic yet also calm under pressure.”
Dispatchers and call takers also have to go through several stages of training. In York County, Czech said it takes about three months. In other counties, like Lebanon, it could take double or triple that amount.
Czech said York County is working to make the job more attractive. The county commissioners approved a wage increase, so trainees would start at $19.61 an hour, but Czech said there are many opportunities for raises after that.
Czech added the job does offer a retirement and benefits package, but he said for many, the job can be its own reward.
“You can get those personal highs, if you will, from helping deliver a baby. We just had a dispatcher, call taker here who delivered her fourth baby,” he said.
To be eligible for the position, all you need is a high school diploma or GED. For more information, visit York County’s website.