“911, Whats your emergency?”
Working as a 911 Dispatcher was probably the most fulfilling job I have ever had. Some of my best and worst days were spent there. It became a love/ hate relationship. I think I am one of those people that was born to do that job. But after years there, I got burned out and have been doing other things since. Dispatching law enforcement is totally different than dispatching EMS, Fire or truckers. Its in a field of its own. Once you get it in your blood its hard to shake it. I didn’t understand the job at first. I didn’t think I would last more than 6 mos and had a hard time understanding the gibberish coming through on the radio. But once it clicked, I never thought I would leave. I built serious relationships there and also mourned a coworker when he died on duty.
When I left there, I went to dispatch at a big EMS company that dispatched only ambulances and a helicopter. Thought it would be the same but nope, not at all. Then went and dispatched @ a fire dept. Nope, still not. I have since come to realize there is nothing that compares. I have also realized that time in my life is over. That ship has sailed. Time to move on. But I will never forget.
There is coworkers I had there that I know will be in my life forever. Certain ones that will always catch my back. And ones that could call me and I will be there @ any hour of any day if they needed me. That group has the tightest bonds of any place of employment I have ever seen. Those peeps of mine that I never hardly see anymore know me better than most people. I guess that’s what happens when you work side by side with people for 12 hours a day in extremely stressful situations.
I have had several very interesting calls that will always be etched in my brain. Either because of the traumatic severity of it or because of the humor. One occasion was when a man driving down the interstate called 911 and said he wanted to kill himself and had a car load of weapons. He stayed on the phone with me for hours. I was in dispatch alone and actually preferred it that way. At 3am or so, it had turned into a stand off on a dead end little country road. He was surrounded by approximately 30 law enforcement officers and still kept the phone to his ear talking to me. He had his gun out and had said he wanted to kill a State Trooper. He actually shot at one of my officers. And thankfully didn’t aim that good. He said he was just testing his gun to make sure the safety was off. I smoked cigarettes through the whole call. I probably went through a pack. It was super exciting and I loved every minute of it. That man is now in prison.
My favorite calls were chases, which were the most challenging to keep up with. The calls that saddened me the most were the successful suicides. Ugh! Heartbreaking. Shootings were fun and so are a good trashy domestic dispute. I do have a heart. I’m just rating those things that get your adrenaline pumping the most.
I answered a 911 call once where a mom & pop convenience store was attempted to be robbed. The offenders had guns. The caller said he think he shot one of them and they both ran out of the store. All my on duty officers flew there and began searching for the robbers after checking on the clerk. They ended up finding one of the robbers shot dead in a ditch across the street. That was as far as he could go and collapsed. The other one kept going.
The funniest calls were the mentally ill people who called. I really felt sorry for them but couldn’t help to laugh afterwards. Other memorable calls were when this dude doused his house with gasoline and had explosives all through the house. He held his wife prisoner and had a stand off with the police. This was in the middle of the day and only a block or two from dispatch. We had to have our hostage negotiator there along with a swat team, ambulance standing by, fire dept standing by and a whole bunch of officers. We ended up getting him after sneaking up on him. He was all cracked out.
Once I was working in dispatch alone, which was not uncommon and I got a call late in the afternoon. It was the high school calling and the caller was rather frantic sounding. She said someone was on the tennis courts and fell out unconscious. I said ok, I will get an ambulance headed that way. But before I hung up I asked the person what the patient’s name was and they said Kari Groover. I hung up and thought “oh crap! That’s my daughter.” I got an ambulance and an officer enroute. Then called my boss. She came up to dispatch and covered for me so I can go check on my child. I left work and flew to the high school and beat the ambulance there. She came to and everything ended up fine. Thank God.
I will never go back to that location and work again, probably. Things have changed there too much. But I will always love and appreciate that job and everything I experienced there. ❤
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