Chitwood calls for salary increase for 911 operators

- Sheriff Mike Chitwood is fighting for Volusia County emergency operators. 

About 115 dispatchers answer more than a million calls here a year, many of them life-saving and a lot of these people making about the same hourly rate as a babysitter.

Day after day, call after call, Doreen Browning is saving lives. 

“First time you give CPR to somebody, units get on scene and they pronounce, they're working a code and they get back resuscitation. Yeah you know why you got up out of bed today,” said 911 dispatcher Doreen Browning.

But she’s not saving much money.

“I've been doing this job 31 years. I should be okay. And I'm not.” 

It’s 911 dispatchers like Doreen who Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood says deserve better pay.

“These folks have been grossly underpaid and underappreciated and understaffed forever,” said Volusia County Sheriff Michael Chitwood. 

He’s pushing Volusia Council to increase its dispatchers’ hourly pay rate by three dollars. Volusia is one of the lowest paid counties for 911 dispatchers in Central Florida, paying roughly $12 an hour. Lake County pays $13.57 an hour. Seminole County pays $13.75 an hour. Osceola County pays around $16 an hour. 

It's not just competitive rates that are the problem. There’s an emotional toll, driving Sheriff Chitwood to get people like Doreen the money he says they deserve.

“When some of the people leave, they say that, that I'm starting to take home some of the calls,” said Sheriff Chitwood. 

“You know that you are the last person that a lot of these people talk to. You're the last voice they ever hear,” said Browning.

Sheriff Chitwood is hoping the county gives the green light for this pay raise in the next couple of months to go into effect on October 1st.
 

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