Make your home page

Indianapolis still seeking more 911 dispatchers

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Metropolitan Emergency Services Agency, which houses Marion County’s 911 center, says it does not have enough dispatchers to properly serve the community.

“We’re at 89 personnel, and we’re up to 115 now. We have people in the pipeline to be trained and brought aboard,” said Tom Sellas, chief of the agency.

Sellas wants that number to be close to 135. He also wants to reduce the average time it takes for operators to answer a 911 call, which is 23 seconds.

“We’d like to see it a lot lower than that. We’d like to see it anywhere between 10 and 15.”

The National Emergency Number Association polled 850 dispatch workers across the country, and found that burnout was high and many workers felt under trained.

Last fall, the salary for entry-level dispatchers in Indianapolis increased from from $35,706 to $47,200.

The raise helped reverse the exodus of employees leaving post COVID-19.

“When we had the weather event back on the 29th of June, when we had massive power outages and a lot of powerlines down, we’d get flooded with calls, and even if we were at full staff back then, it would be difficult for us to get to those calls,” Sellas said.

Sellas is making sure dispatchers have access to peer counseling they may need to deal with some of the stress associated with this vital job.

“The majority of the calls we get are either people who are having a bad day, or having the worst day of their life, it’s rewarding knowing that you’re able to help people through that process.”

New dispatchers start with 4-month paid training.