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Roanoke County 911 Emergency Call Center looking to hire more dispatchers

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ROANOKE COUNTY (WSLS 10) - It's not a job for everyone.

"It can go from quiet and normal routine calls to a plane crash and you never know what's gonna happen next," said 911 dispatcher Logan Underwood.

The requirements may not seem like much.

Communications training coordinator Paige DeSilvry with the Roanoke County 911 Center explained, "You have to be 18 years of age, high school diploma or GED, be able to type 25 words a minute, and you can not have a criminal background, so it sounds pretty simple."

But it's not simple. Becoming a 911 dispatcher goes beyond what an applicant looks like on paper.

It's a job Underwood, who has been a 911 dispatcher for three years, describes as a highly specialized one, requiring an incredible ability to stay calm.

"Biggest challenge is not getting connected to callers or being tied to them in any way," said Underwood.

Due to the high demands of this vital role, DeSilvry said many dispatchers come and go.

Managers at this emergency center say the job is so specialized, only 2 percent of the population in the county is qualified for the job.

Currently, the Roanoke County 911 Emergency Call Center has about 25 dispatchers, but it's short-staffed by eight dispatcher positions.

DeSilvry said the staff shortage is not affecting their service to the community, but dispatchers are having to work overtime.

While no dispatcher at the center describes their job as anything by easy, Underwood said he wouldn't trade his job for anything.

"Every time you walk out of here you know you made a difference," said Underwood.

The Roanoke County 911 center is currently accepting applications.

For those interested, go to: http://www.yesroanoke.com/index.aspx?NID=189