Orange Co. 911 dispatch short seven operators



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - The Orange County 911 dispatch center is supposed to have 106 operators, but it is short seven operators.

In one month, five people quit or retired.

Martha Eidson is 80 years old and said the shortage concerns her.

"Uh, I have a lot of things wrong with me," she said, laughing.

She said walking is difficult.

"I refuse to use a cane, but I should," Eidson said.

Tough as nails and fiercely independent, Eidson knows she might take a tumble, which is why she worries what might happen if she dials 911 during the staff shortage.

"You don't know what kind of situation it is, whether life or death," Eidson said.

Orange County 911 director Bryan Rintoul insists the shortage won't affect safety.

"No supervisor is authorized to work short. Just because we have vacancies does not mean we can work without proper staffing," Rintoul said.

To fill the gap dispatchers often work four hours overtime beyond their 12-hour shift.

It's a long day but Rintoul said operators answer calls within the first 10 seconds.

He said the nature of the job makes it tough to keep good people.

"They don't make a whole lot of money and they take quite a bit of abuse over 911, so it's a difficult job. It's not for everyone," Rintoul said.