Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A 911 Operator's Take.....

So, today we had "In-Service" training. What that means is we spend part of the day talking about issues that we deal with every day. Part of it is playing back tapes of some of our 911 calls. It can be very eye opening. I am amazed at how we sound. Sometimes we sound downright horrible. Other times, pretty darn good. Now, let me be the first to tell you how difficult it is to take 911 in the City of Richmond. For soooo many reasons. First, we get calls that are absolutely NOT emergency. Examples: "Are the schools closed today for snow"? "What is the phone number for Timbuktu's police dept"? "A man is walking down my street, I know he doesnt live in my neighborhood, ya'll better check him out" "There is a bat in my yard"....you get the idea. Second, the true emergency calls can be tough. If someone has been shot or stabbed...the caller is upset, getting an address can be tough...they are hard to understand because they are screaming or crying, etc. They get angry when you ask details, because they think you are wasting time...they dont understand we have already put the call in, we are trying to get more info to help the officers who are on the way. All very understandable, but makes the job tough. And there are many other examples. Not to mention the fake calls....people who find it funny to call in and pretend they are chasing a suspect, or that someone has been shot...very sick people, obviously.
But, what I learned today, is that I NEVER want to be used as an example in a classroom setting of how NOT to handle a call. So, what does that mean? It means I will work harder on each and every call and try to remember each person is an individual who is trying to get some kind of help. Even if what they need is mental help, whether they know they need it or not.
Well...enough said, just know, that this dispatcher, who loves her job and tries hard every day...is going to try even harder.