Wednesday, 05 October 2022 07:50

Shortage of 911 operators within the commonwealth, struggle to fill those positions

When you call 911 you expect there to be a dispatcher on the phone within seconds - while that may be the case - there's a struggle right now to fill those positions in our area

Gary Hoffman, Director of communications at Monroe County Control Center , has worked as a dispatcher and a volunteer firefighter. He tells me that these workers are the first call when an emergency takes place and they are truly saving lives. However, there are just not enough people filling the positions

“Back in the 70’s and 80’s, when we would have 2 or 3 openings, we would get 50 to 60 applicants. Today, we get 15 applicants. Its’s just the whole job thing, people just don’t want to work. This is night, weekends, these are holidays. They are paid well to work that but still some people are not in a mindset that they have to work a weekend. It is what it is.”

“It’s high stress, you have to get it right every time, there’s no room for error. People can die.”


Hoffman tells me that not only in Monroe County are they struggling to find workers to fill those spots, but also all around the commonwealth.

Dispatchers in the Monroe location dispatch and answer all calls - they do not transfer calls unless it's to contact state police.

The number of calls depends on the day, including if there are events in the area or bad weather conditions. On average, The center receives around 1,000 calls a day.

It takes training to serve as a dispatcher- part of that training is learning to answer the call within 3 rings.

“You want the right person sitting on that phone and talking on the radio that has a calming voice, can’t show their emotions, there’s a lot of emotions, a lot of passion. But you have to keep a monotone voice, keep it going and get the critical information that’s needed so you can make a determination of what is needed to send to that situation.”

Al Kearney, director of 911 at Lackawanna County Center for Public Safety tells me that the operators they have now are working overtime.

“There's overtime everyday here at the center and their working multiple extra shifts a week to cover and be here for the residents of the county. We train and do three classes a year to try and get people, and they hang in there. Unfortunately, we do lose some and we gain some, as we gain, we lose. It’s a battle we battle every day.”

“We appreciate the ones that work here, and they do a great job, their hardworking, and very knowledgeable. Were lucky to have the ones we have.”




911 Public Safety Dispatcher

Are you looking for a rewarding career with great benefits? Do you want to make a difference in a person’s life during their time of need? The Monroe County Control Center is accepting applications for the position of 911 Public Safety Dispatcher. Completed application packets submitted to our office will be kept on file until the next round of pre-employment testing (date TBD), not to exceed one year.

The Monroe County Control Center is looking for candidates who are customer service-oriented and are able to handle stressful situations while maintaining composure and self-control. Candidates must be at least (18) years of age, possess a high school diploma or equivalent and have/maintain a clear criminal history. In addition, candidates must have effective oral and written communications skills, basic computer skills and be able to effectively multi-task. Applicants must pass a criminal background check, reference check, written test, a 35 word-per-minute typing test with 90% accuracy, oral interview and pre-employment drug screening, as well as random alcohol and drug screenings once hired.

The Monroe County Control Center is a 24-hour, 7 days a week operation. The selected applicants are required to rotate on ALL shifts and must be available to work NIGHTS, OVERNIGHTS, WEEKENDS and HOLIDAYS. There are no exceptions!

Current starting pay rate is $19.20 hourly. Excellent benefits package. Do you have what it takes?

CLICK HERE to download the 911 Public Safety Dispatcher Job Description.

Last modified on Wednesday, 05 October 2022 07:53

Disclaimer: The ideas are the personal thoughts and opinions of Nate Covington and do not necessarily reflect the position of Barrett Township or the Board of Auditors.

natecovington (at) protonmail (dot) com

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