WWAY INVESTIGATION: Are stress, overtime affecting 911 center and its response?


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — They are people you never hope to talk to, but you count on to be there when you need them.

911 telecommunicators have one of the most important jobs around. But studies show they also have one of the most stressful jobs in the country. A telecommunicator or dispatcher takes calls ranging from simple car crashes to shootings and murders.

“You don’t know if you’re going to bring a life into the world, or if you’re going to see one going out,” New Hanover County 911 Manager Debora Cottle said.

That stress, along with other factors, makes the position turn over often. A New Hanover County spokeswoman said the national studies show dispatchers only stay on the job for about two to five years. The turnover rate nationally is about 20 percent, according to The Journal of Emergency Dispatch. In New Hanover County, however, fiscal year 2015 saw a 57-percent turnover rate. So why is the turnover rate so high in this county? Could there be other factors to explain the turnover besides the stress of the job?

Tonight on WWAY NewsChannel 3 at 11, we take you inside the New Hanover County 911 Center and talk with leaders about the turnover and other factors possibly involved, including whether the staff is overworked, which could be the case with hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on overtime in just the last few months. And we will tell you about a new initiative that could help fix some of those issues soon.

Check out the video above for our WWAY INVESTIGATION: 911 ON HOLD.

Categories: Local, New Hanover

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