Waco, TX (FOX 44) — The Waco Voices Against Substance Abuse, also known as VASA, is helping support dispatchers in our area.

They’re renovating the quiet room Waco PD dispatchers use to show appreciation.

Waco emergency communications and 911 manager, Susie Murray says it’s been a busy year for the unit.

“We answer almost 400,000 calls a year,” said Murray.

Murray says these calls aren’t just for Waco.

“Our dispatchers cover dispatching services and 911 for City of Waco, McLennan County Sheriff’s Office, six other cities within the county, and the volunteer fire departments within the county,” said Murray.

The dispatch unit is doing all of this short-staffed.

Being short 13 workers, the regular dispatchers have to make ends meet.

“It’s been busy long hours. We’ve had to limit time off just so we can make sure that we have adequate staffing day in and day out. 24 hours a day,” said Murray.

Murray says staff shortages are happening at dispatch units across the nation.

When VASA coalition coordinator Emily Frueh heard about this, her organization wanted to help out.

“We are partnering with Waco P.D. to redo a quiet room for the dispatch officers,” said Frueh. “That way they can have a space to come rest and relax and kind of recoup after a stressful call.”

VASA received $10,000 to provide stress relief for organizations impacted by Covid.

Baylor interior design students are involved in the project as well.

They’re building five interior design plans for the unit to pick from to then renovate the space.

“Someone said dispatchers are the voices that give hope, and so that’s kind of been the fun element that we’re trying to bring into this,” said Frueh.

The goal is to increase positive mental health and decompress from the heavy calls dispatchers take.

The students will present their designs in December and renovations are expected to be complete in late spring.