The 911 Dispatcher
My wife has been a 911 Dispatcher for close to 20 years. I think the politically correct term is Telecommunicator. While I traveled as IT consultant installing software systems – she was actually doing something that mattered –saving lives. Through the years, her circle of friends, which included other dispatchers, firefighters, and police – became mine. Even though, I’m not officially one of them – I consider them all family. My closest friends are all in law enforcement.
What saddens me about the role of the dispatcher is the lack of respect. On a daily basis 911 personal instruct callers how to give CPR, stop bleeding, get emergency services en route, coordinate active shooter events, work fatality accidents. Yet, the only newsworthy items the media cares to report on is if an operator gives out a wrong address or flubs.
Through my years of socializing with multiple dispatchers from multiple agencies – seems the worst injustice comes from civilians. The sheer amount of disrespect, language, and you-bend-to-my-will is just astounding. There was a point in time where I started collecting these calls and was going to post them online so society could see just how horrible folks can be. I never followed up.
A few years ago, I decided to write a book on my life with a dispatcher. It was mainly geared toward those who were considering the field. I was always amazed that folks didn’t understand shift work, working holidays, and no weeks off (for most) are the standard. As I progressed on my book, I realized the lack of an empirical data that exists for the 911 field. I created a few surveys and published them to the three most popular dispatcher Facebook sites – Diary of a Mad Dispatcher, The Nocturnal Dispatcher, and Through the Eyes of a 911 Dispatcher.
The surveys generated several thousand responses. While parsing through the data – my life took a left turn. In my job, I was put in a position that consumed just about every waking minute of my life. My writing and research had to take a back seat. Then, last year my wife’s employee took a severe turn and she had to switch agencies.
Due to those circumstances, I changed gears and took a less demanding position. I wanted to focus and finish what I had started those years ago and in the process devote part of my blog to her field. I will continue to aggregate all the data I have collected and share it with those who might be interested.
I’ll be honest, it’s slow going and boring for now. However, as I move forward hopefully it will provide greater insight.