JEROME, Idaho — Law enforcement agencies and communication centers are struggling to fill the critical roles of dispatch officers across the Magic Valley.
Often referred to as the "first" first responders, the crucial job of a dispatcher is at times forgotten.
“There is not one day that these people don’t go home that they have not helped several citizens in this town,” said Twin Falls Dispatch Communications Director Tami Lauda.
A lack of people interested in pursuing a career in emergency communication has been a long-standing issue within the industry. At the Southern Idaho Regional Communications Center (SIRCOMM), interest from applicants hit a low point.
“While we have some interest, it is just such a unique individual that we need to fill the role that it is often difficult for us to find the perfect fit," said SIRCOMM Director Brett Reid.
SIRCOMM is currently needing to fill two full-time positions. While that is a challenge for them, it does not match up with needs coming from Twin Falls city dispatch, who are currently operating below minimum staffing
Seven dispatchers are currently handling all the shifts at the center which operates 24 hours a day. They are currently able to hire 14 more employees.
“If you think that you are an adrenaline type person and that you think to yourself, I would kind of like to be police officer or fireman, but you are thinking, I don’t want to fight with people, I don’t want to go out there and do the physical part of it, this is the job for you,” said Lauda.
The need for dispatchers is so great, the city is regularly conducting open testing emergency communication officer positions.
“It is a tough thing,” said Lauda. “I think a lot of really key people are trying to figure this out right now because there is not a center that is fully staffed.