'They stepped up': Durham's newest 911 operators prepare to field emergency calls

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Sunday, July 24, 2022
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Friends and family gathered at Durham Tech Saturday, to support the eager graduating first responders as they begin important careers in public service.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Durham has at least seven new emergency dispatch operators after their graduation ceremony at Durham Technical Community College. Their friends and family gathered there on a sweltering Saturday, supporting the eager first responders as they begin important careers in public service.

"What does that say for Durham? That we have people who care, and they answer the call," said Mayor Elaine O'Neal.

Most of the graduates declined the opportunity to talk about the challenges of fielding emergency calls, but Jessica Randall told ABC11 "Yes, I'm ready. Beyond ready."

They'll offer assistance to law enforcement officers and firefighters at a time when long hot days can make tempers short. And during these days of high heat and high stress, the need is great across North Carolina, especially in Durham. Mayor O'Neal is very familiar with the demand for faster reactions and arrivals by first responders.

"This was one of the pressing issues, 911 staffing, response time," she said during her campaign for mayor. "So, we needed to do something more than just answer the call for the now. We needed a strategic plan on how to address it for the future. So, Durham Tech is doing great things. They stepped up."

Durham Tech provides training and guidance for people who could be on the receiving end of urgent emergency calls. That's a lot of potential pressure to do the job correctly, and the mayor encourages job seekers to consider applying for future training opportunities.

"This is a great career, because it has the combination of great benefits, a great starting salary, I believe, and great public service," O'Neal said.

You'll find details about current openings for 911 staffing in Durham here..