Telecommunicators Reclassified as First Responders
Williamson County is seeking to fill 17 vacancies in its Emergency Communications Department. Last fiscal year, Williamson County expanded its training academy so that it could train eight new telecommunicators at a time, but several positions remained unfilled. The problem was that employees would stay for training, then leave for higher pay. To correct the problem, this fiscal year Williamson County changed the pay structure and increased the starting pay for telecommunicators to more than $50,000, making it more competitive in the market.
“We have a state-of-the-art communication center, excellent medical and dental coverage, and an exceptional retirement. Now, we also have a very competitive salary structure to not just attract, but retain outstanding employees,” said Chris Connealy, senior director of Emergency Services. “Being a telecommunicator is an excellent job for a person who is willing to train and wants the opportunity for career advancement.”
Williamson County dispatches for 38 agencies including Williamson County EMS and Sheriff’s Office. Job applicants must have a high school diploma and be able to pass a background check. All other training for the required license in Texas is provided by the county. Employees work 12-hour shifts and must be available to work holidays and during emergencies.
“I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without this career. I can’t think of a more rewarding career. You have the capability to make a difference in somebody’s life every day,” states Melissa Martinez, an Education Specialist / Telecommunications Officer IV with Williamson County Emergency Communications.
In addition, telecommunicators are now officially considered first responders. Effective September 1, 2019, House Bill 1090 reclassified telecommunicators alongside peace officers, fire fighters, and emergency medical personnel as first responders. The designation “first responder” means a public safety employee or volunteer whose duties include responding rapidly to an emergency. The reclassification allows telecommunicators to access benefits and protections afforded other first responders.
Scotti Arterbury, Training Shift Lead / Telecommunications Officer IV, states the best part of her jobs is, “Being able to go home every day and say I did the best I could. I did everything I possibly could to help somebody and be kind to somebody in their hardest moment. Just knowing that I did my part. You will be proud to be here and say this is what you do.”
Job applications for the November training academy will be accepted through mid-October. To apply, go to https://agency.governmentjobs.com/williamsonco/default.cfm. For more information, go to www.wilco.org/911.