By Dan Calabrese
In some respects, it’s not that hard a job. You get to sit all day. You don’t have to lift anything. You don’t have to sell anything, build anything or design anything. You talk on the phone a lot, but you don’t have to make any calls.
People will call you.
But you do have to engage in some quick thinking, and you have to capable of exercising good judgment on a moment’s notice. You have to accept that what you do could be the difference between life and death for the person on the other end of the line. Can you deal with that? As an alternative to sitting around doing nothing?
Then if you’re willing to be trained and you’re not a complete dumbass, you can probably get a job. 911 dispatchers are desperately needed:
Dispatchers are a linchpin of the nation’s emergency-response infrastructure. Their responses to 911 calls directly impact how quickly police, firefighters and other first responders are sent to help and whether they go to the right place.
They are also hard to hire, since the job can require workers to make snap judgments on life-or-death situations, often based on incomplete information, for about what they could make working as a manager at a retail store.
With the U.S. jobless rate currently at 3.9%, just above the 18-year low of 3.8% it reached in May, a daunting situation for emergency call centers has turned urgent.
“For a lot of them, the requirement is, ‘We need a warm body’,” said Christy Williams, director of 911 for the North Central Texas Council of Governments. The problem is exacerbated because many 911 centers are small and lack the resources to pay up for workers or training.
The Cowlitz County 911 Center in Washington is trying to hire six new dispatchers, said its director, Deanna Wells. In the meantime, the center’s 16 current dispatchers are working more than 200 hours of overtime a month.
“There are a lot more options for people” because of the low unemployment rate, Ms. Wells said. For workers choosing between a job with fixed hours and weekends off that doesn’t deal with trauma, “you know what they’re gonna pick,” she said.
Come on. There’s no one out there who’s willing to play a role in helping folks in emergency situations in exchange for a badly needed paycheck?
You keep hearing that the unemployment rate is 3.9 percent, and that sounds like good news, but it’s really a very mixed bag. The U-3 doesn’t count people who have dropped out of the workforce, and thanks to work-disincentives that ruled the day during the Obama presidency, there are more of those people than ever before in this country.
To be sure, many of the people who’ve been out of the workforce for the better part of a decade wouldn’t make good 911 dispatchers. They don’t think fast or make good decisions, and they’re probably too bereft with anxiety to handle the pressure that’s inherent to the job.
But there have to be some people out there who have the mental temerity to do this job. Thinking about rejoining the workforce? Call your local police/fire department and see how they’re set for 911 operators. Apply for the job. Get trained. Help to save a life. Or many lives.
And do something worthwhile with your own.
Dan writes Christian spiritual warfare novels and does all kinds of other weird things too. Follow all his activity by liking him on Facebook!