DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — A new class of 911 telecommunicators graduated Saturday at Durham Technical Community College.

The school created the course to train operators to fill open positions amid a nationwide shortage.

Before the graduation on Saturday, the school hosted five local agencies looking to hire locally to talk with the graduates about their future careers.

“The program started out of a need that we have locally for telecommunicators, just like most other public safety agencies,” said Public Safety Dean Justin Long.

Among the class of eight is Heather Hann, who wanted to become a 911 operator after seeing first hand the impacts of the current shortage.

“It took me forever to get someone on the phone. I called three times,” said Hann. “It just showed me the urgency that they need people down there. I don’t really think people understand how much stuff goes into just the one phone call.”

Hann said she’s dedicating her new career to her father, who had PTSD and recently passed away.

“Once he passed away and I started thinking about that, I wanted to go to a job that had a career that is not only helping the community but helping other people like him,” said Hann.

Durham tech will host their next 911 academy in March with applications opening up in February.