GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — Gaston County 911 Communications is looking for more people to answer the call for service.
The unit is currently short 20 telecommunicators, which is about a third of its total workforce.
“It’s very important for us to get these positions filled with qualified applicants so that we can serve the community in the way that they should be served,” Suzanna Mauney-Smith, assistant chief of police with the Gaston County Police Department, said.
Kaela Kiser has served as a 911 telecommunicator in Gaston County for nearly six years. She said it’s a high-stress job, but it’s also highly rewarding.
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"It's just such a dynamic environment all the time,” Kiser said. “It's always unexpected, but when you leave at the end of the day, you know 100% that you helped more people than an average person would help in their lifetime."
Mauney-Smith said the unit has only seen a shortage of 911 telecommunicators like this once before 10 years ago.
She said the county has increased pay for the position to $19.88 an hour, added a 5% 401(k) contribution, and is doing community outreach and hiring events to reach more potential applicants.
“People can come in, they can do the best for the community,” Mauney-Smith said. “They can save lives over the telephone. You know, give that information to the first responders, make sure they come home, and retire in 30 years."
Mauney-Smith said the national standard is answering 911 calls within 10 seconds 90% of the time.
"We are meeting that standard; however, when we're full staffed, we exceed that standard by far,” Mauney-Smith said.
To apply for the position, Mauney-Smith said applicants need to be 18 years old and be a high school graduate or have a GED equivalency. Applicants must also pass required background checks and screenings.
More 911 telecommunicators needed across the Charlotte area
Agencies across the Charlotte area are facing the same issue when it comes to hiring 911 telecommunicators.
A spokesperson for Mecklenburg Emergency Medical Services Agency (Medic) said it currently has 39 people employed in its 911 center, including four people in training. It needs to hire nine more to be fully staffed.
CMPD is hosting a telecommunications hiring blitz on June 28 at the Training Academy on Shopton Road to fill police telecommunicator positions.
CMPD said it will offer on-site interviews, same-day testing, and expedited hiring for qualified candidates.
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