DURHAM, NC (WNCN) – On Thursday, the City of Durham hosted a career fair at the NC Works Career Center in South Briggs. Officials have sought to recruit call takers, as nearly half of the city’s 911 operator positions are vacant.
CBS 17 has been reporting for months about the staff shortage at the Durham Emergency Communications Center (DECC) and its impact on the community. Several people said they had to call 911 multiple times or stay on the line for several minutes before someone answered.
City officials said 28 of their 60 positions at the Durham Emergency Communications Center on Thursday were vacant.
Seven employees will begin training on Monday, and city officials said this would reduce the number of vacancies to 21.
“It is very important that we are available when people call,” said Tangela Gibson, Deputy Director at DECC.
Gibson said at the career fair that they had 32 candidates applying in person and 80 people registered online for the event. She said the 911 operators they hire from the pool of candidates who applied on Thursday will only start taking calls after they complete the training.
“Our training program lasts eight weeks,” Gibson said.
The next academy will start on November 1 and will train up to 12 candidates.
Since this academy can only accommodate 12, that means some of those hired at Thursday’s career fair might not be able to go to an academy until next year’s first academy. end of January or February.
Rikaya Earl came to the job fair Thursday to apply for one of the 911 operator positions as she said she was ready for a career change.
“I do environmental services, I’ve been at my job for 15 years,” Earl said.
She said she had been looking for another job for some time and decided to pursue this profession after hearing about the shooting at McDougald Terrace where some said they were struggling to get their hands on the 911.
As CBS 17 previously reported, McDougald Terrace President Ashley Canady said she had to call 911 six times to report a shooting in which several people were shot on August 18.
“After the problem at McDougald Terrace, where no one could be reached, nothing like this should happen because you don’t have enough people,” Earl said.
Earl studied criminal justice and she hopes the city will give him a chance.
“It’s a career change. If I am able to help someone, it will be a blessing, ”said Earl. “At the end of the day, if we’re going to do this, do it correctly and fairly, and make sure you answer all calls.”
The positions the city is looking to recruit include call takers, training analysts and administrative coordinators.
Anyone who missed Thursday’s career fair can still apply online.