911 dispatch centers facing national worker shortage

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) reports around a third of dispatch centers across the United States are facing a staffing shortage.

“It’s somewhere between 20% and 35% nationwide that are having some sort of staffing difficulties,” April Heinze said. She serves as NENA‘s chief of 911 operations. “It’s a lot more common today where we see staffing shortages more than it was ten years ago.”

Organization officials said since the pandemic, people have been looking for jobs that aligns with a better work-life balance system.


For Ingham County Central Dispatch, they said they’re one of the lucky ones.

“As far as staffing goes, we are fortunate to currently only have two open positions here at Ingham County,”  Kyla Carranco, a staff services manager for Ingham County’s dispatch center, said. “But just like any job, it ebbs and flows.”

Their team has about eleven call-takers and dispatchers on at one given time, with a fully-staffed team of 52 dispatchers.

Officials at the center said they’re hoping to combat any future issues by focusing on mental health to help recruit and maintain workers.

“We’re looking to improve longevity in this career. We do have four people with about 25 years of experience and that is pretty unique too so the wellness piece is very important when it comes to answering these calls,” Missy Harris said, who is another staff services manager at Ingham County’s dispatch center.

Heinze said staffing shortages seem to be worse regionally, depending on location. She added that NENA has seen up to an average of 85% of centers dealing with staffing shortages in some areas.

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