BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB)–Each day, 911 operators answer the call, helping people during their time of need. But here in the panhandle, there’s a shortage. Both Bay and Walton County are looking to fill vacancies at their dispatch centers but struggling to do so. c
“We always say that our dispatchers are the first responders because they’re the first ones to pick up the phone and they have to get help to those who need it,” said Corey Dobridnia, the Public Information Officer for the Walton County Sheriff’s Office.
The Sheriff’s Office is 600 employees strong and hiring more Communications Officers is their latest mission.
“If you’re looking for something consistent where you know you’re always gonna be needed, you’re gonna be essential, you’re gonna have purpose….then an opportunity is calling,” said Dobridnia.
911 operators act as the first point of contact for citizens as they collect information and ensure help is on the way. In Bay County, filling these vacancies is also posing a challenge.
“Part of it is finding people who are willing to do this because it is a very stressful job. You’re talking to people at their worst time that they’re having during a day,” said Brian Hardin, Bay County’s Communication Divisions Chief.
Often, call center employees work long shifts and go through comprehensive training. But both Hardin and Dobridnia say there’s so much room for growth.
“Starting a career as a communications officer and then deciding you’d like to be on patrol or you know what ‘I’d like to go work in records or human resources’. There’s so much room for expansion,” said Dobridnia.
To check out the availabilities in each county, visit https://waltonso.org/ or https://www.baycountyfl.gov/491/Employment-Opportunities