Working Iowa: Dispatchers needed to answer 911 calls

One local communications center is looking for more people to answer the call.
Published: Jun. 23, 2023 at 9:27 AM CDT
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MARION, Iowa (KCRG) - From crashes to medical to parking, 911 dispatcher Liz Harder has taken those calls and more in her seven years at the Marion Public Safety Communications Center.

“It is different every day. It’s always exciting. You never really know what you’re going to get,” said Harder.

“You answer the phones, you answer the radio, you dispatch officers, fire, medics whatever is needed,” said Communications Manager Rhonda Kaczinski.

Kaczinski is looking to hire more operators for the communications center. Shifts are 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., and 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

“Our dispatchers are able to change shifts every six months. So, there is a possibility of changing to a different shift. It gives a little flexibility there, a little bit of opportunity for change,” said Kaczinksi.

Because emergencies can happen anytime, potential candidates must be willing to work weekends. Dispatchers say on average, 80 to 90 calls come in per shift.

”Staying calm under pressure is a big one, knowing your policies and procedures is a big one, but also knowing when to step outside that box because every once in a while we have something that’s just different,” said Harder.

The position includes 14 to 16 weeks of on-the-job training.

“You’re not sitting at a desk doing classroom work. You’re sitting at the console actually working. So you will get that hands on experience right from day one,” said Kaczinski.

If you’re intimidated by the responsibility that comes with the job, Harder says, “It’s not as scary as you think it is.”

She says if you want a job where you know you’re making an impact, all you have to do is answer the call.