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County 911 center seeks dispatcher candidates

Craig Vorhees, of Wildwood, at his console in 2015 in the Chief William Karabas Emergency Communications Building on Hanna Road (West Newsmagazine/Jim Erickson photo)

It’s not an easy job. It requires elements of technical expertise, quick thinking and an ability to multitask. Depending on the personality of the person doing the job, the work also can be demanding and stressful.

At the same time, it can be emotionally rewarding and satisfying and can lead to other jobs with the same employer. Which explains why the St. Louis County 911 emergency call center constantly is on the lookout for good candidates seeking a challenge as a public safety dispatcher.

St. Louis County Police Capt. Steve Sack heads the county’s bureau of communications and was part of the group that planned the Emergency Operations Center and oversaw its construction and outfitting with the latest in computer-aided dispatching. The facility is located in St. Louis County’s Ohlendorf West Park on Hanna Road just south of Big Bend Road. The building also houses the county’s Emergency Communications Commission operations and its Office of Emergency Management that works to prepare and deal with large-scale emergencies.

In 2015, the bureau of communications relocated its operations from Clayton to the new Hanna Road building. It answers 911 calls countywide, dispatches responders from some 40 police departments and relays fire and emergency medical calls to dispatching services such as Central County Emergency 911 in Ellisville.

With its state-of-the-art capabilities, the 911 call center accommodates 76 telephone, radio and supervisory personnel who staff the operation 24/7.

“A very small percentage of the population can handle the dispatcher’s job,” Sack said. “But for those who can, it can be a tremendously satisfying experience.“

From the time a police-related 911 call comes in and an officer is dispatched to the scene, the officer remains in constant contact with the dispatcher until the call is closed out, Sack explained.

“The responsibility that falls on the dispatcher while the officer is on that call can be considerable,” he said.

As for the county’s need to hire new dispatchers, Sack said, “We have people who start here and then are in a position to move on to other jobs with the county, so we are in a constant hiring process.”

Anyone interested in applying for work as a public safety dispatcher can get further information and an application on the St. Louis County police website.

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