The Lawrence County 911 center needs more emergency dispatchers.
And the county has agreed to provide more part-timers to fill in the gaps in scheduling.
The Lawrence County Salary Board Monday created six additional part-time public safety telecommunicators, increasing the total number to 12.
They will be paid a starting wage of $11.61 per hour before training. Their training, which typically takes four months or longer, will be paid by the county and they will be paid while working during that time, county public safety director Brian Melcer said.
The county also has 12 full-time dispatcher positions, two of which are vacant. Melcer said two of the existing part-timers will be moved into the full-time slots.
Melcer said the new part-time positions may or may not be filled, depending on the need.
He explained to the board that the move will be expenditure-neutral, because use of the part-timers will cut down on the need for the full-timers working overtime.
“We’re not adding additional hours,” Melcer said. “We’re just increasing the part-time staff to share the available hours.”
It’s always better to have more to fill in when the full-time people are off sick or on vacation, he said.
According to Melcer, when someone applies for the telecommunicator job, he or she is given a test, which is given three or four times a year and is similar to a civil service exam.
“It’s a hard job,” he said of the position, and sometimes the applicants drop out.
Commissioner Steve Craig noted that, according to Melcer, the county used to have a ready pool of people to fill the positions when people were off, but that no longer is the case.
That pool has become smaller, he said, in part, because of more stringent training requirements.