TEMPLE, TX — Being a 911 operator is a high stress job that requires months of extensive training. 911 professionals are oftentimes the first point of contact when an emergency occurs.
The training and certification process to become a 911 operator is extremely rigorous and requires a lot of training. While some may shy away from a job, a group of Temple ISD students is diving in head first.
At just 17 and 16-years-old, Noah Livesay and Alexandra Camacho have a passion for helping people and an interest in law enforcement. Those qualities have lead these Temple High School juniors to work for months to receive their 911 operator certification through the district's Wildcat Workforce.
"The hardest part is really just like studying for the final test,” Livesay said.
“The information was a lot, and you have to know all of it for a timed test, and you have to concentrate and make sure you study," Camacho said.
Both say the idea of being an operator seemed intimidating at first, but being a lifeline for someone in a dire situation is a vital role they are ready to take on.
“Once we were on those calls listening to them and stuff was like that, I was like, 'Wow, they stay really steady and know what they’re doing,'" Livesay said.
Someone who knows what it's like to take those calls is Ashlee Hampton. For two years, Hampton has been a saving grace for thousands of Bell County residents who’ve rang her line.
”It’s really nice to know that you did something to help. Sometimes, I wish I could just hug them, but I don’t know who they are and they don’t know who I am. When people get there, we hang up and we just answer the next call," said Hampton.
"The most important thing is to be the calm in the storm. The 911 dispatcher is handling crisis situation call after call after call. It’s keeping calm, asking the right questions and, of course, the most important thing, to find out where they’re at,” explained Michael Harmon, Executive Director Emergency Management Coordinator in Bell County.
The Bell County Communications Center is the heartbeat of the county and works 24/7 to be the glimmer of light in the dark.
Harmon says COVID-19 pushed back quite a few of their trainings, which are already limited in size due to the individualized type of assessments they do.
The call center is the only public safety answering service for the whole county, dispatching to over 50 public safety agencies, so help is always needed.
“We always need dispatchers,” Harmon said.
Help that Livesay and Camacho hope to provide one day.
“I’m gonna keep studying and making sure that I teach myself how to keep going. So, once I turn 18, I can apply and be ready for the job,” Camacho said.
Harmon says there are currently about 10 positions open, but she expects to open more come early May.
The minimum requirements to be a 911 operator include:
- A high school diploma or equivalent
- Be 18-years-old or older on date of hire
- Must meet TCOLE and DPS requirements, and
- Be able to do shift work non-rotating
For more details on available positions and detailed requirements, click here.
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