SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – The workforce shortage continues to impact the lives of many people across the nation.

Most recently, Spartanburg County’s 911 call center is feeling the effects.

Dispatch: “Spartanburg 911. What is the address of you emergency?”

Dialing 911, in an emergency situation, is a call you never want to have to make.

“Being 911, you are the first, first-responder,” said Tristan Parker, Assistant Training Coordinator for Spartanburg County Communications, 911.

“It’s very stressful at times. People call us at the worst time of their life and we send the best.”

According to Spartanburg County Communications, its call center is operating at a high standard, working day and night to make sure each call is answered within the first ten seconds of it ringing.  

“We are the first point of any emergency action. If we can’t answer the phone then you are going to have a hard time finding somebody, unless you actually see an EMS or a fire department or personnel from the sheriff’s office,” explained telecommunicator Patrick Lea. “If we are not here, then they’re not there.” 

The people behind the phones are the ones you need in critical times to remain calm.

In Spartanburg County, operators undergo an extensive six to eight week training program that teaches stress management and how to handle emotional calls in the most critical times.

Right now, a shortage of workers is adding a heavier work load for 911 operators.

“There’s been a shortage in emergency services,” said Parker. “We have the adequate staffing to where every shift is filled to the minimum staffing per our policy and procedures. Somebody is here and is going to help you, but we are looking for more employees that way we can take the stress layer off of our current employees.”

According to Spartanburg County Telecommunications, in 2020, reports showed an average of 1,400 incoming and outgoing calls per day. For the entire year, there were more than 500,000 combined.

Call volume is one of the main reasons call-takers and dispatchers are working around the clock. They are making sure no call goes unanswered in the most critical times.

“I don’t take things personally. If people are screaming and yelling at me, I know that they are having a bad day and my job is to be as cool and calm and collected, and get the right agencies to them in the most appropriate and quick manner,” said Lea.

From the time operators pick up the phone, until they hang up, they say their goal is to continue helping others.

“People call you on their worst day and as long as you can make it a little bit better, than you’ve done a good job,” said Lea.

If you are interested in applying for a job at Spartanburg County’s 911 Telecommunication Center, click here.