I can't remember off the top of my head, since working here, when I used 9-1-1 for personal reasons. Though, I have witnessed several calls and used it while being a 9-1-1 call-taker myself. I can remember watching the television show "Panic 9-1-1" and thinking the operators must be highly trained. January 31, 2018 marks my 17 year anniversary. I found my passion on an accident call. It was a major accident call and my first time on a Friday night to man the mic. I was working with my partner Martha, a 20 year veteran. Phase 1 was either just beginning or not there at all. One of our off duty dispatchers stopped in. She had been riding with her husband, an officer for one of the PD's. The 9-1-1 call came in- it was a bad accident- the caller was hysterical, injured, angry and had no idea where he was. My crisis call-taker, 9-1-1 operator, radio communicator job really began at that moment. I remember giving everyone in the room a job to help me help the caller. I needed more eyes, hands and reassurance, the caller had began to notice his occupants weren't responding. For me, it felt like the world was on fire with gusts of wind blowing right at my face. I knew for the caller it was 10 times worse. The accident was located two persons of 4 or more didn't make it. The caller lived. I lived. Managing a crisis was the passion I found that night and I have kept coming back for more ever since.
2. I’m sure you hear a lot of interesting stories when answering calls, but what is one story that sticks out in your head that might have been scary, but turned out funny and/or everything worked out after the call.I can't recall all of the calls but I can remember making my own 9-1-1 call. I don't work in the town I live in. This was a very long time ago but I came home late one night to a wrecked home. My things were thrown around the room, broken a total mess. I was terrified. After a couple of calls, including one call to 9-1-1, an officer, my landlord, and two friends were coming to my aid. My older sister was also on the way too! My landlord had just left, he was going to change the locks. The officer asked me questions like do you know anyone that would be upset with you and I bawled! I was a wreck! We were outside and the officer asked my neighbor a couple of questions, my neighbor said there was loud banging against the walls all night. As we stood listening, one of the friends mentioned she stopped at my home the day before came inside and thinks she may have left the front door opened. The officer, myself and the friend went inside my home, but this time we looked ridiculous. We had our shoulders raised to our ears, whispering and walking softly? The officer began to look harder at the prints he found. The place was so wrecked, wall pictures, mirrors and plants just busted everywhere. What more could he find from those prints but the suspect, right? He asked me if I owned a cat? I didn't own any pet while living there. We all approached my bedroom, stepped inside and I said pull that laundry basket out. The officer leaned down, pulled the basket out and out jumped the suspect! Terrified, I screamed and began running in place. The suspect began to head for me. I turned and put motion to my already running legs and ran out the front door with the suspect in pursuit. I got out the door caught my breath and realized I was the only one outside. My friend was walking out the door slowly and unable to walk straight since she was laughing too hard from the chaos she just witnessed. I went back inside, into my bedroom to find the officer bent over at the waist with his hand on my bed and the other on the laundry basket, as if to hold himself up. He wasn't making a sound, until I heard him take a deep breath in, to let out the biggest belly laugh. He laughed himself out the door. He tried his very best not to make me feel like I was silly and my experience was hilarious. My landlord had just pulled up, the officer stops my landlord and says, "the suspect has left the building!" The suspect was a squirrel. Yes, a scared squirrel trying to get out of my home. The officer said I had just given him the best story of his career and said how in the future he would love recalling this story. Months later I received a gift from a friend, also a dispatcher, who worked as a dispatcher in the city I lived in. She had also heard about the squirrel, and laughed uncontrollably. The gift was from the responding officer, a stuffed squirrel. I have quite the collection from friends and family now of stuffed squirrels.
3. What do you think people need to know about the people who answer the phones for 9-1-1?I think people need to know that we want to help. When people call in yelling "just figure it out" or "you already know where I am" the training we've had gets tossed out the window. We're human and we're going to make mistakes, please work with us instead of against us. Remember that we probably haven't used the bathroom or eaten yet, and you're our first priority. And people really need to know how awesome we feel at the end of a compliant, helpful caller. For me, it's a huge energy boost.
4. Why do you think it is important for people to have 9-1-1 as a resource for emergency help?9-1-1 is a direct connect to help. There aren't any automated systems to go through, just a person on the other end of the line willing and ready to listen and send help. Anytime.
5. If you could share one piece of advice with the world regarding 9-1-1, what would it be and why?Dear world, 9-1-1 is not just for kids. It's for everyone. Teach your children, teach your older family, teach your teenagers and your young adults. Learn that it's an amazing resource to have at our fingertips. It's a person on the other end of the line, a voice that will stay with you and get help to you. It's not a joke if you call because you can't find the number to Pizza Hut. It's used when people are dying, grow up. Many places in the world don't have this service, appreciate where you live does. Play "what-if" emergency drills with your family, educate yourselves about how to use a cell phone correctly and go over what you'll give the 9-1-1 operator; your name, your number and your location. We'll get help to you.