Douglas County officials are hopeful they can start turning around some of the difficulties they’ve had keeping emergency dispatchers.
On Tuesday, Gardnerville resident and former Reno Airport Authority Communications Manager Brent Finster was named Douglas County Emergency Communications Manager.
Recruitment closed for two new dispatchers, as well.
Longtime manager Ron Sagen retired from the position recently after working 30 years for the county.
Human Resources Director Wendy Lang said that the county has received 60 applicants for the two positions over the last six weeks.
“Last year we posted for over 4 months to achieve these levels,” she said.
She said advertisements on the county’s web site, governmentjobs.com, Indeed, glassdoor.com and ZipRecruiter have been viewed 4,200 times as of Monday.
On Thursday, county commissioners are being asked to approve hiring a dispatcher with more than a decade’s experience at above midrange salary.
There are 11 trained emergency communications specialists working to cover shifts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to Lang.
That is stretching the Dispatch staff fairly thin with some shifts covered by only one dispatcher.
“This is done as minimally as possible and primarily by supervisors,” Lang said. Deputies will assist with providing breaks to the dispatchers when needed.
While Douglas County emergency communications typically runs two or three vacancies, the positions have been increasingly difficult to fill since the coronavirus outbreak.
Lang said approval of a pay increase in spring 2022 did include dispatchers, who are represented by the Douglas County Employee’s Association.
“We did see an increase in applicants following this action, however labor shortages continue to effect county operations across multiple departments,” Lang said.
Concerns about keeping qualified dispatchers employed prompted three associations representing three groups of public employees to call out county management in a combined opinion published in today’s edition.
“They are the first, first responders,” East Fork Fire Protective Association President Kevin May said. “Without them, your call for help goes unanswered. Our dispatchers have saved countless lives in Douglas County, and they are rarely, if ever, recognized for their efforts. There is even less conversation when critical staffing issues occur in our dispatch center.”
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