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Durham Tech opens '911 Academy'

Getty Images/Vetta

A new program at Durham Technical Community College will train 911 operators.

It's a job that's in demand as the Triangle's population continues to grow. 17 students are enrolled in the new 911 academy, which trains operators in the basic skills of handling emergency calls.

"We're seeing a lot more people move into our area. And with that comes more calls," said Ernest Janetta, director of Human Services and Public Safety at Durham Tech. "And I think there's a huge need to increase those those services, as we see the population increase."

That population growth is putting a strain on emergency services. Earlier this year,half of the 911 operator positions in Durham County were vacant.

The number of emergency calls in Wake County now tops 10,000 a month, according to a recent budget presentation.The county recently launched a program where nurses help callers who have non life-threatening emergencies.

While the new Durham Tech academy is meant to address that county's operator shortage, Janetta says residents of any county can sign up.

"All those skills we're going to provide for them in those hours will allow them to work in almost any agencies within the state of North Carolina," he said.

Bradley George is WUNC's AM reporter. A North Carolina native, his public radio career has taken him to Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville and most recently WUSF in Tampa. While there, he reported on the COVID-19 pandemic and was part of the station's Murrow award winning coverage of the 2020 election. Along the way, he has reported for NPR, Marketplace, The Takeaway, and the BBC World Service. Bradley is a graduate of Guilford College, where he majored in Theatre and German.
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