911 dispatcher shortage spreads agencies thin

- They are the people we turn to during emergencies but this line of work is facing its own sort of emergency: 911 dispatch centers in several Bay Area counties say they’re looking to hire people, but resumes aren't coming in. 

Local officials say there's a need for 911 dispatchers all across the country.  In Hernando County, there are 16 openings. In Pinellas, there are 30. They want to fill those positions as soon as possible but finding the right people is a challenge.

“Everyone who calls us is typically having the worst day of their life,” said 911 dispatcher Kimberly Purchase. “I get people telling me all the time… if you hadn't been there, if you hadn't answered the phone, then I’d be dead and that's very powerful.”

Denise Moloney with the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office says she could call any communications center in the country and they would have openings.

But some say it’s not difficult to see why. The job has long hours, overnight schedules, and high-stress situations.  Officials want applicants to know those who wear the headset have a lot of responsibility.

Kimberly Purchase has done this for 13 years and says there's really only one way she could describe it:

“Have you ever been through a drive-thru and you buy the food for the person behind you and it makes you feel really good for the rest of the day? It's the same exact feeling, except at a much higher caliber because what I’m doing is actually saving someone's life.”

For anyone who’s interested in this rewarding, yet stressful, line of work, it pays about $13 an hour in Hernando County. Check the websites of your local agencies for potential openings.

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