1. Tell me a little bit about yourself: Where are you from, what agency do you work for, how long have you been there and what is your passion for working for 911?
My passion for working for 911 comes from my willingness to help those in need. I enjoy the feeling of knowing that I helped a person either through a difficult situation or maybe provided assistance for the smallest to biggest tasks, sometimes even when it may not have been within my area of expertise.
While working at one of my previous agencies, I received a call from a gentleman who stated he was down on his luck and wanted to end his life. I spoke to him about the importance of his life not only to his family and friends, but in general. We discussed the fact that he had recently lost his job and was without assistance. I offered him the names of locations that are known to provide assistance until he can get back on his feet. He told me that he was very happy he had spoken to me and decided against proceeding with his suicidal ideations.
3. What do you think people need to know about the people who answer the phones for 9-1-1?
If you don't know anything else, please KNOW YOUR LOCATION. That could be an address, intersection, street name, business name, etc. Any major landmark is extremely helpful. Please don't call in and expect the operator to be from that area and know "the pasture that John Doe use to own," or where "Lulu's house" is.
4. What do you enjoy most about your job and why?
5. What do you think is the hardest part about working your job and why?
I think that the hardest part of my job is managing the stress that is associated with dispatching. You sit in an uncomfortable chair at a workstation with multiple computer monitors for sometimes 12 hours or longer, without a lunch break and very minimal restroom breaks.
7. If you could share one piece of advice with the world regarding 9-1-1, what would it be and why?
One piece of advice I would share with the world is to remember that the 9-1-1 operator is human. We share the same qualities as you. We laugh, we cry, we hurt, and though we understand that you may be going through one of the worst situations of your life, we are here to help. There are certain questions that we must ask to ensure not only the safety of our responding emergency units, but we also need to get the appropriate personnel to respond to assist you. For example, you would not want for me to dispatch a police officer to your loved one who is possibly having a heart attack.
8. If you were talking to kids graduating high school who were not sure what field that wanted to go into, what would you tell them about your job and why it is such a fulfilling and worthwhile job?
I recently read a blog that provided several personality traits that a dispatcher should possess. In summary, it stated that a good dispatcher would need to have a typing speed with “fingers like Mercury”, short term memory, the ability to multi-task, be able to find the happy medium between caring too much and caring too little, and be able to focus on the call that you may be taking at that time. If you possess all of these qualities, you possess the “IT” factor to be able handle this type of job. Dispatchers are like the flock of black sheep in the center of multi-colored sheep. Welcome to the flock!