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Jefferson City 911 Operations Center adds staffing

The Jefferson City 911 Operations Center is up to full staff after months of an employee shortage, but still faces challenges.

ABC 17 News first reported the staffing shortage back in January.

Since then, four dispatchers have been hired. The latest dispatcher started working within the last month.

However, the department is still using overtime to fully staff the center due to its long training process to get the new hires up to speed.

A 911 dispatcher can be a stressful job. And a shortage of employees only adds more strain and longer hours.

Amber Markway just finished training at the 911 operations center when it became short staffed.

“We had to like try and back each other up as much as we could,” Markway said. “And it was a little stressful at times. We were stretched thin, you know, working the overtime, so not a lot of off-time.”

Capt. Eric Wilde with the Jefferson City Police Department said it is getting harder to fill open positions.

“We’ve seen our applications drop considerably over the last few years because of the stressful environment,” Wilde said. “I think this year we had a total of around 100 applicants, but that gets whittled down by testing processes and background investigations.”

The training process takes about 17 weeks.

In that time, new employees learn the computer systems, local agencies and how to communicate with first responders.

Markway said the recent hires give her more time to help callers in emergencies.

“You don’t have to be like, ‘Okay information? Done. Next caller. Information? Done. Next caller,” Markway said. “Now we can try and get a little bit more from them and make it a little more personal with our callers and try and build up our relationship with our citizens.”

ABC 17 News also reported the Boone County Joint Communications dispatch center was short-staffed in January.

Tuesday, Assistant Director Joe Piper told ABC 17 News five new employees started working last month.

But Joint Communications is still looking to fill five additional positions due to turnover and the expanded dispatch center opening later this year.

If you are interested in being a communications operator, click here for more information on the career opportunities in Boone County.

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