My Job =)

This week is National Public Safety Telecommunications Week.  I have worked as a 9-1-1 dispatcher for 9 years now.  It's crazy how fast the last 9 years have gone.  I went to college for Graphic Design for 1 year.  When I was in high school that's all I wanted to do, design stuff.  I worked at a local newspaper in High School designing all of their ads for the paper.  I loved it.  It was so much fun.  Then I went onto College and I wasn't as fond of it.  After 1 year of doing that I decided that I needed to do something else.  But what?  I searched and searched.  My father came home from work one night, he is a police officer.  He said you know dispatch is hiring.  I was like yeah right.  All they do is sit in a chair and answer the phone.  Finally I decided to apply.  After filling out about a 10 page application, I had an interview.  I was interviewed by about 6 different people.  Talk about intimidating!  After the interview I had to have a full background check, a polygraph and a drug test.  I thought to myself, a lot of steps to take just to sit behind a desk and answer phones.  After a long time of these interviews and tests, I was finally offered the job.  Let me tell you, it's not just about sitting in a chair answering the phone.  There is a lot more to it!  You never know from one minute to another what the next call is going to be.  It can go from someone making a complaint about the neighbors dog barking, to the very next call a mother calling because her baby isn't breathing.  This job takes a toll on you that's for sure.  The phones both business lines and 9-1-1 phones can ring off the hook.  In between answering emergency phones, you are talking on the radio to police officers, all while entering arrest warrants into the computers.  And while you are talking an elderly man through CPR who just woke up and found his wife of 50 years unconcious, you have an officer asking you to run a license plate for them.  When you tell the officer to stand by because you are a little busy, you can almost hear the sigh on the other end of the radio.  If you've never done this job, you won't quite understand.  But I give every dispatcher credit for the work they do.  It's very hard sometimes when someone calls and takes out their issues on you, calling you every name in the book, cursing, yelling and just mad at you.  Just keep calm and know they are just venting on their frustrations, and you happen to be the one who answered the phone. 

There have been many nights after taking a call I think to myself, why in the world do I do this?  Last week I took a call from a 90 something year old lady.  She wasn't feeling well and was really sick.  I stayed on the phone with her until the ambulance was there with her.  The call broke my heart.  She didn't have any family around, she was really sick and crying.  She kept telling me she was so scared.  I kept her as calm as I could until help arrived.  After I hung up with her I just wanted to cry.  No i'm not directly there with these people, but i'm hearing everything first hand.  That same week I had someone jump off a bridge, the caller I was talking to was freaking out.  I had to keep him as calm as I could all while sending out the fire department, ambulance and police officers.  Thankfully that call had a good ending though.  There are just some calls that pull at your heart.  They make me take a step back and think about my life and how some of the petty things I care about really aren't an issue after all.  You take a house fire call where a family has lost everything, you come home and you are thankful you have a place to live. 

One really hard thing is, is that I come from a family of public safety personnel.  My father is a police officer, my husband is a police officer and my 2 brother in laws are both firefighter & paramedics.  And they all work in towns that I dispatch for.  So when I send any of them to a call that is bad, not only am I praying for the victims, but i'm also praying for my family and for God to keep them safe as well.  It's hard.  I was once dispatching for my husband, and I had him out on a call.  He called in on the phone and told me he needed an ambulance.  I did my best to try and not freak out, but let me tell you I sure wanted to.  I had no idea what happened to him and why he needed the ambulance.  It's not like we were at home and I could question him to no end.  While we are working if he asks for something, no questions asked, it's just done.  That's just the way it is.  I waited and waited as patiently as I could until I found out what happened to him.  It wasn't anything too major thankfully, but he was on a call and someone had set off some weird chemical bombs and he inhaled the stuff.  He and his partner he was working with both had to be sent to the hospital.  Both were ok though, thankfully =)

Anyway, i'm done with my little rant if will.  I love my job.  I can't imagine doing anything else.  There are good times and funny times in the job as well.  Delivering a baby on the phone was probably the best moment ever in my job!  That's the rewarding aspect of it! =) 

Here is a quote that I think every police officer should read.  A lot of officers forget to tell us quite often where they are.  If something happens it's very hard if we don't know where they are.  So here is a quote that we live by in dispatch.  We tend to remind the officers of this quite often! =)

"You may know where you are and what you're doing,
And God may know where you are and what you're doing.
But if your dispatcher doesn't know where you are and what you're doing,
Then I hope you and God are on very good terms."