By: Candace Gray
911 Emergency Dispatcher
When you tell someone you answer 911 for a living, their first question is usually something like “Oh my gosh, isn’t it stressful?” or “What’s the craziest call you have ever gotten?”. What they typically DON’T ask is “Why do you do it?”, so I’m definitely happy to answer this one!
I have been doing this profession for the last 12 yrs, starting at the young age of 20yo. I work for a small department in a county of approx. 18,000 citizens with 9 full-time and maybe 6 part-time dispatchers.
Definition of Multi-Tasking
We handle everything (answering admin & emergency lines while dispatching for police, fire, rescue, animal control while handling all traffic via NCIC/VCIN, and monitoring cameras and building alarms, etc) with no more than 3 people on duty at a time while working 12hr shifts.
Never say the word “Quiet”
Our job is ever-changing and demanding and constantly keeping you on your toes. Time could be standing still but you don’t dare say the word “quiet” because you very well know you could break off into a pursuit, fully involved house fire, B&E in progress, domestic with weapons involved, or any other random event.
All while juggling doors being buzzed and deputies that continue to call traffic stops while they scan the other channel with nonstop radio traffic.
But it doesn’t matter because we as dispatchers make a difference. We are the first line of communication to the person on the other end of that radio or phone. We are the ones that determine how quickly that information is relayed.
Lives at Fingertips
We are the ones that could potentially hold the fate of another human being – be a citizen, firefighter or police officer – literally at our fingertips. Our job is not one for glory or one that is recognized/celebrated often but that doesn’t matter.
What matters is that we do the job we are set out to do and ensure at the end of our shift, we have sent people home to their loved ones and that the people on the other end of the line received the help they needed in a timely manner.
I do my job because someone needs to want to do it and do it well to make sure that goal is repeated all day, everyday. Passion is all we have sometimes when pay and/or moral in the department isn’t up to par. All I know is I could not be the person that sits in a cubicle pushing the same paperwork all day everyday.
I like to be challenged and made to think on my toes and act fast! The day I lose that passion, I will know it’s time to walk away. After all, we never know whose life we changed once we unplugged for the day but isn’t it awesome to think you may have?
I can honestly say I didn’t pay attention to how many words this was but it’s definitely a WHY. Thank you for the recognition….it is greatly appreciated!
Big Thank You to http://www.facebook.com/DiaryOfAMadDispatcher