MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WTVF) — What if no one answers?
A shortage of 911 dispatchers is a growing concern in counties across Tennessee.
And that shortage is sparking a large pay increase.
Hoping to find new hires, authorities in Rutherford County are boosting salaries for a job critical to public safety.
Chief Rutherford County Sheriff's Deputy Keith Lowery said there is a serious shortage of 911 dispatchers, and those on the job are forced to pick up the slack.
"All of them — everyone working here is working overtime right now."
Jenny Mathias is one of 17 dispatchers currently on staff.
They handle up to 3,000 emergency calls a month.
And, the office is currently seven dispatchers short of what's needed.
"I work channel one, so I get all the patrol units working traffic saturation right now," said Mathias.
Of course, 911 dispatchers are crucial to a quick response to emergencies.
"If they don't respond to that call then no one else is coming — not a fire truck, ambulance or police car coming," said Lowery.
The Rutherford County Sheriff — now like so many others across the state — is advertising for those interested in a stable job with good benefits.
They'll train you and they have increased everyone's pay by 20%.
Starting salaries for full-time dispatchers across the state are going up. In Rutherford County, you'll start at $43,800 a year.
If you are wondering what happens when a 911 dispatch center gets overwhelmed with calls, there are fail-safes built in where a flood of emergency calls are forwarded to other locations to help dispatch the call.
But that is the last resort.
If you are interested in becoming a dispatcher, contact your local sheriff's office.