ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — As Atlanta police work to hire and retain more officers, the city is boosting its efforts to recruit more E-911 dispatchers. Staff members held a recruitment event on July 14, 2022, targeting the next “hero” first responders.
Atlanta’s E-911 Communications Division thought Hero Doughnuts and Buns was a good place to hold E-911’s first “Donuts with a Dispatcher” event, and so did the donut shop owners.READ MORE: Toyota Is Offering To Buy Back An Electric SUV Because Its Wheels Could Fall Off
“Hero’s all about celebrating community heroes, and when you think about 911 dispatchers and the critical part that they play in our community in serving our community, we could not be more excited to host them out here,” said Jeremy Chambers, one of the restaurant’s partners.
Connie Blackwell, an E-911 evening watch shift manager, discussed the recruitment effort. “We just wanted to get the citizens involved and just let them know that we’re real people behind the E911 telephone,” she said.
These dispatch heroes say the number of calls increased when the pandemic started, with many calls involving life and death situations. The center handles about 3,000 calls a day and a million calls a year.READ MORE: The House Passes Democrats' Health Care And Climate Bill, Clearing Measure For Biden's Signature
“We’re your first, first responders. When you dial E-911, that determines if we’re transferring you to the ambulance service. That determines if we have to send you a police officer. That determines if we have to send you a firefighter,” Blackwell said.
They currently have at least 100 call-takers and dispatchers, but like other agencies, there’s a struggle to retain workers who are willing to sacrifice holidays and weekends, work different shifts around the clock and handle stressful calls. It’s not an easy job, but workers at the event said it’s worth it.
“It’s rewarding. It’s what I signed up to do,” said Blackwell. “It’s going on 29 years, so evidently, I love my job, and basically just giving back to the community, being able to help people. When you call 911, it’s an emergency, and you really need someone to act right then.”MORE NEWS: FBI Is Investigating 'Unprecedented' Number Of Threats Against Bureau In Wake Of Mar-A-Lago Search
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