Dispatch: A New-Found Respect
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Dispatch: A New-Found Respect

You don't have to want the job to respect the ones who do it

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Dispatch: A New-Found Respect
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Everyday you wake up and never know what that day is going to have in store, well I'm no exception to that rule. Back in September my boyfriend and I found out we were expecting. Needless to say I didn't wake up thinking my whole life would change but it did and that's okay with me because along the way I've already learned so much. However, today I'm going to focus on the temporary job that has taught me a few life long lessons.

Dispatching. Oh how that word makes my skin crawl sometimes. I miss being on the opposite end of the radio responding to calls at any given hour, day or night. Although I've learned that dispatchers deserve a special thank you that most of the time is overlooked. We broadcast our support loud and clear for the thin blue and red line however very seldom do we remember the thin gold line. Dispatch is the heartbeat of the emergency services world. Just like police, fire, and medics, someone is here every hour, every day, all year, week days, holidays, and weekends. Whether the call starts with "Public Safety how can I help you?" or "911 is your emergency police, fire or medical?" every time the phone rings you're the one person standing between the caller and the assistance they need. You are the heartbeat. I remember getting so irritated when dispatch would ask a unit to repeat their traffic, or when they wouldn't key up to respond as soon as a question was addressed to them, but now I understand. You never know what's going on behind the radio. You are having to repeat your traffic because one dispatcher is on the phone with a parent whose child has choked on a small object and now stopped breathing, and the other dispatcher is on the phone with a man who is standing in the street as he and his family watch fire consume their home, oh yeah and on top of that two units are making traffic stops. So yes they asked you to repeat your traffic so that we know you're "clear status 4." Dispatchers are doing everything they can to not only keep all of our responders safe but also all the citizens in our jurisdiction that call requesting help for various reasons. Being temporarily on the other side of the radio presents many challenges. For instance as the person answering the phone "911 what is your emergency?" the victim states in a hushed tone, "I need police to my address, my husband has beat me and he has just walked into the other room claiming he is going to find a weapon" the line goes silent, no more information however suddenly you hear screaming and a noise that sounds like glass breaking after being thrown. "Ma'am.. ma'am... MA'AM, can you hear me I have units in route to you." The line goes dead. You try to call back, no answer. One more time, no answer. That feeling makes your heart sink. Every second that you wait for responding units to be on scene feels like a lifetime. Two minutes for the first unit to arrive on scene and you hold your breath waiting for an update from the officer. Seems like ages, your officer keys up "Dispatch get an ambulance in route to my location for one unconscious female, be advised one male subject in custody." "Station copies". Five minutes later, "EMS on scene, in route to the jail with one male beginning mileage 25,658." Thirty minutes later "Clear from the jail status 4." The call is over. What happened? Is the woman I spoke to going to be okay? Unanswered questions. We will be the first to hear the emergency and the last to know the outcome, if we ever even know the end result. You ask how is that different from responding on the first responder side or the fire side? Well the answer is simple, yet extremely complex. On the first responder/ fire side you physically see the patient, you access their needs and their condition, you're the last people who see them before they close the ambulance doors, you can recall the whole event later on and know that the patient left the scene conscious and alert or CPR in progress. No we don't save them all, you just can't, but nine times out of ten you know at the end of the call what the outcome is. It just isn't that simple in dispatch; you hear several calls a day and send different responders code one or code three to incidents and move on to the next phone call, the next traffic stop, then meanwhile you get report of a car that struck a power pole and "bam" the power goes out. Lost computer signal, radio traffic down, phones dead. It's a new challenge everyday. Just like every other department of emergency services you try to leave work at work but somehow two days after your twelve hour shift you're laying wide awake in your bed at 3 o'clock in the morning playing back the voice of a small child who called 911 because his older sister who was babysitting him passed out and wasn't breathing, you still don't know what happened, all you can do is lay there and hope that when you fall asleep, you don't dream about it or the apartment fire that no one was hurt in however 50+ people lost their homes and everything that belonged to them. It's tough. So in the nine months that I'll be behind this console answering calls I've so far learned true patience and understanding. I've learned to control anger and emotion because in any moment someone is depending on you to get them the help them on their worst days. So remember that our officers, fire service members, EMT's and Paramedics are such blessings however don't forget the people who put all those personnel and apparatus in motion. It's not for the faint of heart, so next time dispatch asks you to repeat your traffic don't get angry or aggravated, respond with patience knowing that you don't want their job and they are doing everything in their power to help you do yours. In honor of all the thin line's that are represented by every department today I say thank you and I stand behind you.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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