COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A shrinking number of dispatchers and emergency call takers is taking place in the city of Columbus.

If not addressed soon, it could affect response times to emergencies, which is why the city of Columbus is asking those in the community to consider becoming a 911 dispatcher or call taker.

“I know these streets like the back of my hand, you know, if an officer comes on screaming, ‘Hey I got one running northbound,’ I can tell you what store they’re in front of,” said Jennifer Doig, a 911 dispatcher with the Columbus Emergency Communications Center.

As a 911 dispatcher, Doig not only loves her community, but also helping those in need.

“Every single phone call I take here, it doesn’t matter if I’m on the 911 line, or the non-emergency line, I want them to know that I care about what’s going on in their life,” said Doig.

However, she says it’s a job, that’s becoming harder to fill, due to recent labor shortages. Without adequate staffing, public safety officials say it could affect response times.

“So we process anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 million calls through our call centers, now that’s not all, those aren’t all dispatched, so you’re looking at hundreds of calls in an hour period,” said Dan Giangardella, deputy director for the Columbus Department of Public Safety.

Giangardella says they have over 30 vacant positions in the emergency communications center. Meanwhile, they have a staff of 108 employees, but he says they’re all spread out between three work shifts, over 24 hours. For Doig, the stress and extra hours from the lack of workers, is taking its toll.

“There are those times where you know, they’re short on third shift, and the supervisor can come to you and say hey I’m really sorry, but I’ve got to hold you for a sixteen-hour shift,” said Doig.

It’s why, the city of Columbus is calling on the public to help fill those vacant positions. To provide a necessary service to their community.

“They play a crucial, vital role in not only receiving those calls, but processing that information and providing that information to our first responders as they go out in the field,” said Giangardella.

At least 38 call takers have been hired since last November, but the city says the need for more is still there.

View more information and apply for open positions here.