By Geena Martinez
ODESSA - It's no secret that the City of Odessa needs more police officers and firefighters but there's another group of first responders struggling to keep up. The city is in desperate need of more 911 dispatchers.
Right now ,the city is down more than half of what they need for a full staff of dispatchers.
At this time, no incentives are being offered to recruit more employees, however, the department is hoping people will step up to the challenging yet rewarding task.
It's a phone call that can mean the difference between life and death; 911 dispatchers are the lifeline for the community when there's an emergency.
"The information that dispatchers received and get back to those police and firefighters is absolutely critical," City of Odessa Public Information Officer, Andrea Goodson, said.
However, in Odessa, there are not enough of them.
"We have 28 positions budgeted for dispatch and we only have 13 of those filled," Goodson said.
Firefighters and police recruits are helping fill in the gaps.
"There's lots of overtime but it simply has to be done," Goodson said. "We can't stop answering 911 calls."
The dispatchers are constantly busy during their 12-hour shifts. We're told partly because phone lines are often bogged down with non-emergency calls.
"We receive an incredibly large volume of calls because we answer 911 for the entire county," Goodson said.
Goodson said the job is demanding.
"This has gotta be somebody who has some patience, who doesn't get easily excited, somebody who can stay calm under some stressful circumstances," she said.
But Goodson said it's also very rewarding.
"We've had dispatchers that have helped deliver babies, save lives and walk somebody through how to perform CPR and keep that person breathing until medics can arrive on scene," she said.