PHOENIX — The Phoenix Fire Department and Phoenix Police Department are in need of more 911 dispatchers and are looking to hire dozens of people.
In total, they are looking to fill 66 positions.
"I consider our dispatch center the nucleus of every call," said Phoenix Fire Captain Todd Keller.
He added that even with the many open positions, call times are not being impacted as their current operators are working extra hours to fill the need.
"We have 100 percent customer service delivery at every fire station -- that's the exact same thing that's going on in our alarm room," he said.
The National Emergency Number Association said nationwide dispatch centers have seen a 30% -35% decrease in staff.
"We're at the point where we're facing some pretty critical staffing shortages across the country," said April Heinze, 911 and PSAP operations director for the association.
She said the high turnover rate is not normal for dispatchers and said the decrease in staff seems to be how dispatchers were treated during the COVID-19 pandemic. She said many operators felt that they were not given the same priorities as other first responders.
"They're still considered clerical...so we've seen a lot of people afraid they're not going to be taken care of," she said.