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COLUMBIA - Boone County is accepting applicants for a new Director of 9-1-1/Joint Communications.

He will oversee the day-to-day operations of emergency dispatch in the county. The hiring comes in preparation for the county and city joint communications units joining together under one roof at the end of this year.

Right now, Boone County and the city have a combined 39 employees who handle 9-1-1 calls, including supervisors. The city hopes to have 45-50 by the merger.

These 45-50 people need to have a unique skill set, according to Jenna Redel-Reed, the director of human resources and risk management. 

She said 9-1-1 operators need to have level heads and be great at multitasking, while not being easily bored.

Redel-Reed said operators need to be able to understand people on the phone, while working logistics and notifying the proper authorities with the appropriate responses. 

Finding qualified candidates could be challenging, and the need for more people creates an almost continuous cycle of hiring.

Despite this, the county says it believes finding the right type of candidates will not be a problem.

"We had more than 100 applicants for our last offer," Redel-Reed said. "About half of them are what we could consider strong candidates." 

Redel-Reed said Boone County normally gets its operators from smaller counties in mid-Missouri, using Columbia as a draw.

Redel-Reed said the new operator will need to be able to understand what the operators are going through and promote a strong work environment. The new position would also require the ability to handle crisis management on a day-to-day basis.

Boone county hopes to fill the management position by the beginning of the merger.