Watch CBS News

Montgomery County emergency officials hoping for more 911 operators to fill staffing shortage

Montgomery County seeking new 911 operators to tackle staff shortage
Montgomery County seeking new 911 operators to tackle staff shortage 01:53

EAGLEVILLE, Pa. (CBS) -- Emergency officials in Montgomery County are hoping more candidates apply to be 911 operators and fill a stubborn staffing shortage.

"I believe that public service is one of the best things that you can do in your whole life," Alex Alvarez said.

Alvarez was on the path to public service to become a 911 operator. He started training this week at the Montgomery County Emergency Operations Center.

"Super intense. Very helpful," he said. "It's a lot of information."

He was in a class of 12 candidates. But even if everyone passed, this class would only fill a third of the open spots at the center.

"Every state, national, or regional workgroup that I'm on, biggest topic is staffing," Jennifer Cass, deputy director of emergency communications, said.

Cass said the mental health impacts of taking emergency calls was just one hurdle to keeping enough operators.

"Night shift can be some of the challenges," she said. "Shift work in general is a challenge."

Before they can even get to the classroom, applicants must show basic spelling and multi-tasking skills. Diavah Lindsay made it into the class. She said she loved the interactive lessons.

"Anyone can read all day long, but actually getting hands-on training and doing the actual work, me personally that's how I learn," Lindsay said.

She was optimistic that she would learn what it takes to help her community.

"It's going to take time, but we're going to get there," she said.

County officials said even if the entire class of 12 joins this floor, there will still be 19 openings. That is not counting other openings across the state.

If you want to apply, head online to the Pennsylvania I Am 911 website and select your county.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.