What called you to your career?
I wanted to gain experience in the 911 industry and work my way into more of the law enforcement side, whether that be an officer or a civilian position.
What keeps you there?
I fell in love with helping people over the phone before responders could arrive. Being able to stay on the line with callers during their final moments to help comfort them as best as I can; helping those needing to start first aid/CPR on a loved one; and the teamwork behind what we do on a daily basis, is what keeps me here.
What do you find fulfilling?
Offering comfort and calm during chaotic moments. When you save a life via CPR, help to deliver a baby, assist those in times of crisis like a bad traffic accident, mental health crisis etc., is one of the most satisfying experiences I could gain from a career.
What are some challenges?
We understand that when someone calls 911, it might be your first time calling us for help. It might be a frantic moment, or you could be having an emotional response with what you are witnessing or experiencing. Our main goal is to get you the help that you need and the best care we can give you before responders arrive. When you can focus with us, it makes it easier to get information to responding officers or fire/medical personnel.
Another challenge is determining what is a crime that requires 911 attention and what might be a civil matter. For example, maybe you sold a car and now the person refuses to finish making payments. Maybe you are going through a divorce and battle about shared time with your children or property. Those need to go through the courts – not 911.
The changing world of technology can also be a challenge. A new medical/fire triage system or computer updates can sometimes be an adjustment curve for us, even with training. During an actual emergency, sometimes computers have a mind of their own and we have to work through some of the issues on our end, but this could cause a gap in our communication with you.
What is surprising about your work?
Sometimes the funny reasons people call – a caller demanding that police come and make Popeyes give them a crispy chicken sandwich instead of a refund.
What do you wish everyone understood about your work?
Short staffing can be a major issue. We understand that long hold times on both 911 and non-emergency can be a deterrent from calling to report a crime. We have to handle the 911 calls first before the calls holding on non-emergency.
While we can't predict the emergencies coming in, we will try to assist you as best as we can when your call does finally reach an operator. Sometimes this could mean while you held on the non-emergency line for minutes to hours, there might be a better department or agency that could assist you that doesn't require a police response.
311 is a great new tool for people to use for resources that do not involve a crime, like a parking complaint, animal control problem or maybe a houseless camp showed up at a park, but there is no active crime occurring now. All of those can be assisted through 311, which could save you from potentially long hold times on the non-emergency line.