Officials are looking for a few good multitaskers to join the ranks at Kanawha County's Metro 911 Communications Center.
Metro Director John Rutherford hopes to hire eight new dispatchers before Jan. 1.
Rutherford said a few dispatchers have retired in recent months and that some vacant positions have been left empty. Those positions were left open to bring in new employees with the new Computer Aided Dispatch system, which dispatchers will begin using at the beginning of the year.
Rutherford, who previously served as chief deputy at the Kanawha Sheriff's Office and is running unopposed for sheriff, said the dispatchers' dedication is obvious.
Many logged long hours this summer when a devastating windstorm swept the state. Some didn't have power at their own homes, but came in day after day to help others.
"The people here are just as dedicated to their jobs as the men and women serving as first responders in the field," Rutherford said. "It's just as stressful up here but it's also just as rewarding."
To say the job is intense is an understatement.
Dispatchers answered more than 520,000 total calls last year and have answered more than 92,000 emergency calls so far this year.
They work 12-hour shifts, two days on duty and two days off, with alternating three-day weekends.
It's stressful, demanding and unpredictable. But veteran dispatchers said it can be exciting and rewarding, too.
"When you hit that button and answer the phone, you don't know what's going to be on the other end," said Mike Ellis, a senior dispatcher with 10 years of service. "It could be neighbors arguing over someone dumping trash on their property, or someone who's loved one is going into cardiac arrest, or someone calling because there's someone in their home with a gun.
"You just don't know."
The job can be overwhelming at some points, but those who work at the center are dedicated to the profession, said Denise Clark, Metro's deputy director of operations.
"There's a saying that paramedics have the 'golden hour,'' she said. "These dispatchers have about 60 seconds. They have the 'golden minute' to figure out what's going on and how to respond."
Their main job is to gather information. They must quickly determine what type of services are needed, and then dispatch those services. The more information they gather, the better prepared responders are when they arrive.
Dispatcher Missy Bennett said dispatchers often build a rapport with first responders.
"They trust you," said Bennett, who has worked at Metro for five years. "They know Missy's going to protect me, she knows where my next backup is."