OSHKOSH, Wis. (WFRV) – Over the last year and a half, we’ve been talking about first responders who have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Communications dispatchers are a critical component of this field, handling calls for service. In Winnebago County, as well as surrounding counties, there is a shortage.
“First of all, it’s absolutely not for everyone and we talk about that at every phase of our interview process,” said Capt. Lara Vendola-Messer. She says some people think the job is like what you see in our favorite TV show or movie and it’s not. “You think you understand what it’s like, but until you actually here it’s very different,” added Vendola-Messer.
There have been more than a few changes over the years, that have helped dispatchers do their jobs. “Technology has obviously, vastly improved in the last 25-years,” explained Vendola-Messer
Sherry Hopfensperger has just celebrated a milestone. “I still like my job after 25-years and that’s number one,” said Hopfensperger. She says there are a number of reasons why. “I like the people I work with and I have a family that is supportive and understanding,” she added.
More than half of her time on the job has been on the third shift, also known as overnights. There were times when she thought she might not be cut out for this line of work. “Once I had the training and felt more confident, listening to other people take the calls, I learned from their knowledge,” explained Hopfensperger. Part of her duties now is to help teach new recruits learn the ropes.
“Sherry Hopfensperger is one of our key dispatchers here. She’s been here a long time and has experience that she is able to share with newer dispatchers,” said Vendola-Messer.
Currently, Winnebago County Communications is staffed at 80%, which means there is 20% of positions to fill. They are looking for candidates who want a career, not just a job. For more information on opportunities, visit Winnebago County Dispatch hiring process.