KYLE, Texas (KXAN) — Call after call with sometimes just two 911 dispatchers available to answer — that’s the situation right now for the Kyle Police Department.
The department needs more staff to help with current demands and ones in the foreseeable future with the city’s growth.
Tonya Domingo has answered 911 dispatch calls in Hays County for 26 years. She’s seen firsthand the increased need for emergency services.
“If there’s a major call that comes up and all of our lines are coming in at once, we can have 10-12 lines going at one time, and only have two people on duty depending on the time of day,” Domingo said.
It’s a call load that can be overwhelming for the department’s limited staff.
“We’d like to have four people on at all times. But it just isn’t… isn’t happening right now,” Domingo said.
But that’s something they’re trying to change by hiring more people.
“Filling those positions would help us distribute the workload more evenly. Allow people to have more breaks,” said Ashley Minning, the department’s interim communications manager.
Right now, the department is accepting applications with no previous experience needed.
“The positions that we have open are part of a long-term plan for growth. We pay you while you’re training. We send you to the training and cover all those expenses,” said Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett.
Jennifer Wood is one of those dispatchers. She jumped into this position just two years ago from an entirely different field.
“I was in food and beverage, and so COVID hit… you know, I wanted something and kind of fell into this. I’m super grateful I did,” Wood said.
It’s a change she does not regret.
“You’re talking to people on the worst day of their lives. All you can do is be calm and hope that you can give them some kind of semblance of peace in that moment,” Wood said.
Dispatchers said getting more staff would help with their call volume and give them the breathing room they need.
“Going to the bathroom. Maybe be able to call out… most of us won’t call out because somebody else has to come in and work,” Domingo said.
Even through the difficult moments, Domingo said she doesn’t think she’ll retire anytime soon.
“I want to make sure that there’s somebody there on the other end of the line that can get them help, and I just like to make a difference,” Domingo said.
Right now, the department is looking to fill four open positions.