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911 Dispatcher Shortage In Teton County


The Teton County Communications Center has less than half of the staff it needs to answer emergency calls. The County Sheriff is asking the county commissioners to increase the salary of dispatchers in an effort to address the shortage.

The 911 dispatch center needs to be fully staffed with 16 employees but currently only has eight.

Riclyn Betsinger, a manager at the communications center, said in the last six years, the most employees the department has had is ten. Bestsinger said the problem lies with recruitment and retention.

"Housing is a big deal. Just getting people here, recruiting people here to find housing to be employed with us. And then we have had some turnover folks that have left the county. A few folks that have retired from the center."

Betsinger said staff are already dealing with overtime and burn out from the job, and that she fears what will happen if one person steps down.

"I think our biggest issue at the moment is we're really one person away from not having two people to staff 24/7, 7 days a week, 365."

The center receives calls for the sheriff's office, the Jackson Police Department, Teton County Search and Rescue, Jackson Hole Fire and EMS, the National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton Park after hours. By increasing salaries, the Sheriff hopes retention will improve. The commissioners has not voted yet.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Kamila Kudelska, at kkudelsk@uwyo.edu.

Kamila has worked for public radio stations in California, New York, France and Poland. Originally from New York City, she loves exploring new places. Kamila received her master in journalism from Columbia University. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the surrounding areas with her two pups and husband.
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