911 dispatcher centers see shortages nationwide and locally

911 dispatcher centers see shortages nationwide and locally

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - For almost 10 years, Lufkin Police Department Communications Supervisor Ashley Jowell has worked as a 911 Dispatcher.

"Your adrenaline level goes from 0 to 60, it can go from that within a matter of minutes, so you could be sitting there twiddling your thumbs waiting for the phone to ring and you might pick up the phone and it's a mother that's having to do CPR on her child,” said Jowell.

Currently, there are 10 dispatchers at the Lufkin Police Communications Center, but will need to fill at least 4 of those positions soon which has been hard to accomplish due to the stress and shifts of answering emergency calls.

"I think the turnover across the state is because we do work very long hours, we get very few breaks like I said you get maybe 10 minutes to go heat your food and sit back down and three hours later you might get to eat it. It’s not for everyone you have to really be able to multi-task,” she said.

Jowell said the low pay rate is also a contributing factor to shortages.

"We start out at $17.39 an hour, but for what we have to deal with and the types of people we deal with the pay should be way more than what it is,” said Jowell. Despite the responsibilities, there are rewards.

“There’s many a times that you’re going to deliver kids or babies over the phone you’re going to do CPR to help save someone’s life, you never know what’s going to come across the line so that’s why it’s kind of exciting about the job because you don’t know what you’re going to get,” said Jowell.

For those interested in becoming a dispatcher, prior work experience is not required.

Employee's complete a 17-week training program.

The Lufkin Police Department is also looking to hire patrol officers and will have to complete the entrance exam on January 10th at 9 a.m.

The deadline to sign up is on December 14th. You may click here for more information.

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