WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The West Palm Beach Police Department is working to fill multiple openings in its 911 dispatcher department.
Dispatchers who currently work there said it's already a stressful job, and the shortage is making it worse.
Inside the West Palm Beach Police Department is the connection between you and the help you need in times of emergency.
It's meant to have a team of 47 people but right now they are 10 short. That's taking a toll on the staff that's already giving it their all.
"It means a lot. It's tremendous because of the shortage," Suzette Dodd, who supervises dispatchers, said. "They're working more. We need more people to answer the calls that are coming in."
She said although they have 10 vacancies, they're still performing above the national average in terms of response time when people call with emergencies.
WPTV also spoke to Cathy Widdoes, who has been a part of this team for 27 years and has heard it all.
"It's stressful when it's back-to-back, back-to-back," Widdoes said. "We take a lot of calls in this center. We handle everything we need to, but it would be nice to be fully staffed."
More than 350,000 emergency 911 calls were made to the West Palm Beach Police Department last year.
"Accidents, rollovers, people trapped in cars, serious injuries, people who are being assaulted, domestic calls: it's important to get those calls toned out and officers on the way," Widdoes said. "That can make the difference, seconds can make the difference for some people depending on the situation they're in."
"What would it mean for you to have those 10 spots filled?" WPTV Reporter Victor Jorges asked.
"It would be a lot less stress," Dodd said. "When you don't have enough staff, the staff that's here is having to work overtime to fill vacancies, so having every seat filled all the time would be tremendous, for us and our operation."
For those interested in applying, it's important to know they have a few requirements like a high school diploma or GED and one year of customer service experience.
Training on how to be successful at this job is also given to employees, and it's paid.
"What is the secret for doing this for 27 years?" Jorges asked.
"A lot of patience, perseverance, determination, and caring for people and what you do," Widdoes said.
Click here to learn more about job opportunities with the city of West Palm Beach.