Emergency services could be at risk in Trumbull County as they face a dispatcher shortage. 

The center located in Warren has 17 dispatchers and needs to get that number up to 26, but they’re seeing less and less applicants. 

“There's a lot of stress on the job. The hours aren't exactly desirable, you're working weekends and holidays 24/7, 365,” Tacy McDonough, the Trumbull County 911 Director said. 

The Trumbull County center covers 43 agencies. They don't take calls for Niles, Girard or Lordstown who have their own Public Safety Answering Points. 

McDonough believes not being able to offer a competitive wage is why people aren't applying. 

“You can go to your local Target and make 18 dollars an hour so when you're  making 22, 23, 24 bucks as a dispatcher do you really want to deal with those types of calls for a few extra bucks?,” McDonough said. 

Columbiana 911 centers are also battling a wage issue. 911 Director Brian Rutledge said that their PSAPs in Columbiana and Salem have had several dispatchers leave for other similar jobs that pay better. 

Right now, all five of Columbiana Counties PSAPs have just enough people to fill the schedule but they are working to combine all of them under one roof to make things easier. Plans to condense to one call center are currently being held back by funding issues. 

In Mahoning County, they're comfortable with the amount of dispatchers they have but are always looking for more. Their seven PSAP locations always have at least two dispatchers on shift at all times - sometimes more. But since there is always turnover with retirement and shifts needing to be covered for vacations and sick time they need more applicants. 

“They keep up with that but it becomes difficult if you don't have people applying and again it's not for everybody it’s 24/7, you're not always going to get the shift you want, there are mandates,” Maggi McGee, the Mahoning County 911 Coordinator said. 

If Trumbull doesn’t fill at least nine dispatcher positions in the near future they could have to stop answering non-emergency calls - leaving no one to answer after hours for small departments that don’t have enough funding to staff their phones 24/7.

“We tend to be the catch all for everything,” McDonough said. “We’re just buried right now and we need some more people.”

McDonough also believes if they move to a new building it will attract more people to the job. The call center has been in the same building on Howland-Wilson Road since 1994. 

“We’re still in the basement here … [dispatchers] need to see a little daylight that will help with morale and it’s definitely a depressing site to be in and definitely needs some technology and updates,” McDonough said. 

Possible sites for the future 911 center are the Health Center in Cortland and the second floor of the Social Security office in Warren. McDonough said they don’t know what it will cost to move but are hoping the commissioners will help with some of the bill. 

Applications for Trumbull County dispatcher can be found here. 

To apply for a Mahoning County dispatcher position, reach out to the individual PSAPs here.

Applications for Columbiana County dispatcher can be found here.