Shortage of dispatchers

Police, fire and medical personnel responding to an emergency need to know exactly where they are going and what they will be facing.
That is the role of police and fire dispatchers.
Unfortunately, finding individuals to fill that position is not easy.
About a month after Fayette County raised the salary for its part-time telecommunicators to help lure people to that job, the city of Vandalia followed suit.
At the request of Police Chief Jeff Ray, the city council last week upped the hourly pay rate for part-time dispatchers by more than $6.
Ray said the city was paying those part-time workers $14.46 an hour, with those working overnight getting $14.96 an hour.
He asked the council to have the hourly rate for the part-timers mirror that of full-time hours, $20.87, and aldermen agreed to take that action.
Ray said it’s a hard position for fill at a part-time level because of the training hours involved and the irregular schedule for that job.
“It takes about 300 hours of training time to get that person trained before we can get them where they’re working on their own,” Ray said.
Three individuals hired as part-time dispatchers, he said, “have come and left.
He said that his department is down to two part-timers, and that they have had four at one time, with one of them being a secretary who also works 20 hours a week.
The part-time dispatchers fill in for sick days or vacations, and the dispatcher with the most seniority, 23 years, has four weeks of vacation time each year.
“It’s a hard position to fill because there are no guaranteed hours. You may go a two-week period without getting an hour of work, or you may go two weeks and get 80 hours – it just depends on when our full timers take off.
Another issue is that the minimum wage in increasing to an eventual cap of $15, and people working those jobs, Ray said, are typically guaranteed a certain number of hours each week.
“It’s a very hard position to find somebody that wants to work nights, weekends, and the time that they do want to take off is generally holidays,” Ray said.
He said that he posted the job on the department’s Facebook page. “It reached 8,537 people, and we had three applicants, two of them still being in high school.
“So, we’re just not getting applicants, and if it’s the rate of pay, if we can increase that to try to get more qualified candidates or to get some candidates,” Ray said.

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