HANOVER TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — When emergencies happen, 911 dispatchers answer the calls. Efforts are underway in Luzerne County to raise awareness and recruit workers for the essential roles.
The Luzerne County 911 Center currently has more than two dozen telecommunicator jobs available.
28/22 News was able to get a look inside the Luzerne County 911 Center in Hanover Township.
Telecommunicators were busy answering calls and are first when seconds count, making sure emergency responders get to where they are needed as quickly as possible.
The agency provides fire, police, and emergency medical dispatching for nearly 200 agencies throughout Luzerne County.
Kristen Rowlands of Plymouth is one of the dedicated 911 supervisors. She is one of three 911 workers in Pennsylvania who were selected to appear in a PEMA Telecommunicator Awareness Campaign.
“I’m a mom. First and foremost, I’m a wife, and family is so very important to me, but I had zero background coming into 911. So, I didn’t think that it was something I would be able to do, but honestly, anybody can do this job,” Rowlands explained.
Rowlands says the center has been plagued with staffing shortages over the past few years and it’s having an impact on operations.
“We’ve been told that calls have been going into overflow, and you’re being put on hold, we don’t ever want to do that. But when you only have two, three, four call takers per shift, that’s unfortunately what happens,” Rowlands added.
Staff members offered some tips for the public to consider when calling 911.
“How the public can help us during this crisis is, they can remain calm on the phone when they call in and get the recording, don’t hang up because that only puts them at the end of the queue so they’d have to wait longer. So, be patient, be calm,” said Luzerne County 911 Executive Administrative Assistant Angela Czapla.
The 911 Center celebrated its 25th Anniversary in June and those interested in becoming a telecommunication can go online to apply.