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911 dispatchers needed before summer

By Michelle San Miguel, Multimedia Journalist - Pueblo Chieftain Bureau/Telemundo Anchor, michelle.sanmiguel@krdo.com
Published On: Apr 18 2013 11:29:54 PM CDT

911 dispatchers needed before summer

PUEBLO, Colo. -

The Pueblo Police Department says retaining dispatchers is a hard job, and one it's always trying to do. The department needs six more dispatchers as it prepares for its busiest time of the year- the summer months.

Atchley Pedrie thought she was good at multitasking, until she started working as a 911 dispatcher. "I got here and I was like 'wow, I'm really rusty at multitasking,'" she said.

Dispatchers are trained to handle every call imaginable, from talking someone through how to deliver a baby to calming a frantic child. It requires instant focus while simultaneously juggling numerous tasks.

"From the time you're little people tell you to pay attention to what you're doing and focus on one thing, well when you get up here you can't do that," said Laura Wittrup, dispatch manager. "You have to focus on 10 things because you're on the phone, you're on the radio. There's alarms going off."

Wittrup says the fast-paced nature of the job makes it hard to retain dispatchers. "I think we're resigned to the fact that we're always gonna be in a training mode. We'll probably never be at full staffing," she said.

"It's hectic and it's frustrating and it's overwhelming but then when you get those calls where you're like 'I helped with this person,'" Pedrie said. 'It's just a great feeling to have."

Wittrup says dispatchers generally last four to six years, that's after they pass six months of training. Dispatchers say during the summer, 911 calls go up by 30 percent. The department wants to hire six dispatchers so they can be fully staffed by Memorial Day.

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