High turnover rate for 911 dispatchers

LAWTON-- A recent study says 911 dispatchers are in need nationwide. Long hours, stressful situations, and not enough bodies to take emergency calls have led to high turnover rates.

Paula Pierce a supervisor at the Lawton dispatch center says she believes the study is true, due to the stressful calls the dispatch centers deal with.  Pierce says at times it's overwhelming when every light on your screen lights up, while other times you may go without a call for 30 minutes.  She says you have to really like what you do. For her it's a way to help the community.

Emergency dispatchers train on the job for six months and then they cross train to work everyones job within the dispatch center. Pierce says some of the calls they deal with on a daily basis are tough. Calls can go from a shooting to a backed up sewer in seconds. And if they weren't already busy enough, the dispatch center also takes non-emergency calls for the city. Pierce says, "we get the water, the sewer, the garbage, people who have broken pipes."

Stephanie Henderson is another dispatcher in Lawton and says they even take 911 calls from other states. She says it can be very overwhelming especially for individuals that don't have some type of background in any kind of law enforcement or medical areas.