More than 200 show up to land a job at Pasco County 911 center

911 center filling 19 positions
Posted at 11:25 PM, Aug 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-26 17:12:53-04

"People in the community are not being taken care of correctly, when there's a 911 call, it needs to be answered in the first ring or two," said Jonathan Raiskin.

For Raiskin, the phone rang 12 times but no one picked up as his neighbor lay lifeless on his doorstep.

"Let me ask you one simple question, why is it I called and 12 rings went by and nobody answered the phone, I have a person that's half dead here on the floor," said Raiskin to the operator when he finally got through.

"My reaction was one of dismay, disbelief, and I was like holy crap why doesn't anyone answer 911," said Raiskin.

Officials say its a lack of staffing. Right now their short 19 people. Current operators have been working around the clock, some on for as many as 17 days straight. But the county says they have had significant improvement.

In fact, Director Kevin Guthrie says Pasco County’s 911 call answer rate has improved dramatically – from 49% in April, 2016 to 85% in August, 2016. That means in early 2016, 911 call takers were answering 49% of all 911 calls in the first 10 seconds. Now, in August, 2016 – they’re answering 85% of calls in the first 10 seconds and 96% of calls in 11 to 20 seconds, which actually exceeds the National Emergency Number Association standards.

Wednesday night, 250 people showed up to help fill the gap.

"Obviously its a very important and critical position," said Ryan Cox.

Cox is one of the people determined to land in one of those positions. The stay at home dad has cared for his special needs daughter for years. He says he's now ready to put that same dedication into helping the community.

Hopeful jobseekers like former department of corrections officer Hugh Wrinkle were given a tour while officials painted a picture of what they may face on the job.

"It requires responding quickly to emergencies, and remaining calm and collective, during the response, you have to know what your doing, you have to communicate on several different levels," said Wrinkle.

And while he's confident his experience will translate, the sad reality is most wont end up employed.

Of the 200 applicants at the last job fair, only two were hired. Officials say most either fail the polygraph test or lie on their application. Either way, for folks like Raisin, he says the county must act fast or the consequences could be deadly.

"Whats gonna happen if we don't get the situation fixed is your going to see fatalities that don't have to happen, your going to see a lot of people very frustrated with the county," said Raiskin.