Friday, April 13, 2012

Support your local dispatchers

It's National Public Safety Telecommunications Week, during which we should all take a moment to thank the men and women who serve in our local public safety answering points, more commonly known as 911 centers. Dispatchers are the first first responders, and play a critical role in public safety.

Here in Lincoln, our public safety dispatchers and staff of the Emergency Communications Center have a difficult job to do in a less-than ideal environment: a windowless basement room that has flooded twice in the past decade.  They are tied to the chair during the peak hours, and seldom get relief.  When I was working a half day with Megan a few weeks ago, a supervisor came around about an hour before the end of her shift, to let her know that she would have to stay for another 4 hours of involuntary overtime. "Oh, well, so much for the dance recital," she said.  Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon situation.

Dispatchers are the lifeline for police officers and firefighters when the chips are down during critical incidents out on the street.  Day in and day out, they do a remarkable job, and I salute them!


Anonymous said...

25 years ago I was good friends with a guy who was a dispatcher and I got to know several others who worked for the unit.

My friend said the hardest part of the job was that when you picked up the phone, you never knew what you would encounter but nearly every time, you would be dealing with a person having the worst day of his/her life. "OMG my mother is dying!" "OMG I've been in a car accident" "OMG my house is on fire!" Crises do not often bring out the best of emotions from the callers, but the dispatchers tried hard to be professional and helpful.

Sometimes calls were from snippy entitled citizens demanding instant service for their perceived emergency (barking dogs, newspaper not on the porch, kids outside yelling, etc.). These folks often said things like, "I live in [perceived Richie-Rich neighborhood]. Do you know what that means? It means my taxes pay your salary and I demand satisfaction now or my next call is to the Mayor!"

It was a stressful job that often had its rewards but also was grindingly difficult. Knowing him and his colleagues gave me a deep respect for the dispatch team.

ARRRRG!!!! said...


Steve said...

I appreciate the information you provide as to the technological advances that pertain to law enforcement (or fire fighting) as well as your blogs on the importance of the "behind the scenes" personnel. Sadly, it doesn't generally inspire many comments. Complaining or controversy is more popular than pats on the back.

Your efforts are appreciated, none the less.

Anonymous said...

Tom-Author Lisa Gardner has a 911 operator as the main character in one of her novels, and mentioned in several others. Read "Catch Me" when you have a chance and you'll probably read the rest of the Det. DD Warren series. There are some highlights of typical 911 calls that capture the emotions of the job and the awesome job that is being done by those folks.


Anonymous said...

Really, where would we be without the dispatchers? They are priceless!

Tom Casady said...


You're a handsome pirate.


I didn't realize it until today, but last night one of our dispatchers, Steve Phillips was honored as a Trauma Champion by BryanLGH Medical Center at an event held at the Roccoco Theater, for his role in the response to a rural Lancaster County traffic crash. The Trauma Champion award goes to emergency personnel whose actions contribute to saving the life of a critically-injured trauma patient. Congratulations Steve!

Steve said...

Yes, congratulations Steve. He must be one heck of a guy (judging from his name). :)

For what it's worth, I've been on the receiving end of emergency services. I was very lucky to have survived being hit by a tractor-trailer rig. I suffered a concusion, so my memory of the event is somewhat skewed, but as I recall, it seemed like only seconds before there were flashing red, blue, and yellow lights all around me. Everyone involved was courteous, professional, and efficient. In retrospect, I think the dispatchers had a lot to do with the speed with which the responders arrived. Thank you to any and all who may have been involved.

BTW, I don't think that picture was actually Arrrrg!!!!

Anonymous said...

Teamwork is the key to many jobs and good results depend on everyone in the team. I am sure it is even more important in Police work and fire & rescue jobs. My thanks to everyone on the teams. My family has needed the services of BOTH the fire & police departments in Lincoln.
Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

ARRRRG, You're much younger than I imagined! YO HO HO!

Anonymous said...

I was a radio dispatcher in 1967. There was no 911 yet. A desk sgt. (John Hewitt at the time) would take all incoming calls and assign oficers accordingly. No walkie talkies, just call boxes for beat officers. Time flies. 6:48 KAB 463 I believe it was.