Chatham County 911 Communication Center experiencing staffing shortages

Published: Jul. 19, 2023 at 5:31 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 19, 2023 at 6:30 PM EDT
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CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - While it’s improving, Chatham County 911 Communication Center is still battling staffing shortages.

Employees of the 911 center are currently training to help during scary situations.

“What’s the address of the emergency?” said a recording played during the training.

But, WTOC has heard from a couple of people who haven’t been able to get through to a call taker.

“I tried for probably 30 minutes to get a 911 operator.”

“No one answered the phone.”

911 Communication Director Diane Pinckney says there a few reasons you may not get someone on the phone. She says sometimes lines get tied up during accidents or storms. But another issue is staffing.

“But we want everyone to know that we’re working feverishly to make sure that we have the staff to answer those calls.”

“Here at the 911 communications center, Pinckney says there are 19 vacancies. 4 for call takers and 15 for communications officers.”

However, that’s a smaller shortage than November of last year when they needed 28 more employees.

Pinckney says they started feeling the staffing struggles during the pandemic. Three years later, they’ve asked for back up in tackling the call volumes.

“Chatham County Police they have allowed us to train some of their officers and personnel to help us to answer non emergency calls until we can stabilize.”

Pinckney hopes a new Computer Automated Dispatch or CAD system coming in October will help operations run smoother and ultimately get to more calls.

“We want all of that information right there for the call taker to utilize to garner the best response to that complaint. It takes time for us to train people to do that. It kind of narrows the pool and you have to be able to handle the stressors involved.”

She says they are recruiting aggressively with 20 people preparing to test for vacant positions. She also wants to hear the public’s needs.

“If we aren’t doing something right let us know that.”

Do not call 911 to express a complaint. Pinkney says you can ask for her directly at (912) 652-6500.

She says they also need the community’s help tackling this issue.

She says they get utility related calls often. She encourages non emergency callers to use other numbers like 211 for community resources and 311 for city concerns.