911 Dispatchers – Thank You!
This week is Dispatcher Appreciation Week. Our emergency (911) dispatchers are the first people you talk to when you call with a crisis.
Even though dispatchers can't see what’s happening, they are the eyes and ears of our first responders—our guiding angels, who ensure that first responders get to an emergency as fast as possible.
You probably know that dispatchers in Mendocino County answer emergency 911 calls, but you may never have considered what else they do. While they’re dealing with panicked callers needing all manner of help, they also answer frantic calls from on-duty officers, deputies, fire fighters and paramedics who either need more information to help others, or who need help themselves. Dispatchers answer all these calls while accessing hundreds of computers databases and managing emergency resources to ensure people in crisis receive the help they need.
I have always admired the commitment and service our dispatchers provide our community and our first responders, and I can’t think of a better time than this week—Dispatcher Appreciation Week—to share part of a letter a colleague wrote to express the feelings we all have for our dispatchers.
A Tribute to Dispatchers
I have found in my law enforcement career that dispatchers are the unsung heroes of public safety. They miss the excitement of riding in a speeding car with lights flashing and sirens wailing. They can only hear of the bright orange flames leaping from a burning building. They do not get to see the joy on the face of worried parents as they see their child begin breathing on his or her own, after he or she has been given CPR.
Dispatchers sit in darkened rooms looking at computer screens and talking to voices from faces they never see. It's like reading a lot of books, but only half of each one.
Dispatchers connect the anxious conversations of terrified victims, angry informants, suicidal citizens, and grouchy officers. They are the calming influence of all of them—the quiet, competent voices in the night that provide the pillars for the bridges of sanity and safety. They are expected to gather information from highly agitated people who can't remember where they live, what their name is, or what they just saw. And then, they are to calmly provide all that information to the officers, fire fighters, or paramedics without error the first time and every time.
Dispatchers are expected to be able to do five things at once—and do them well. While questioning a frantic caller, they must type the information into a computer, tip off another dispatcher, put another caller on hold, and listen to an officer run a plate for a parking problem. To miss the plate numbers is to raise the officer's ire; to miss the caller's information may be to endanger the same officer's life. But, the officer will never understand that.
Dispatchers have two constant companions, other dispatchers and stress. They depend on one, and try to ignore the other. They are chastened by upset callers, taken for granted by the public, and criticized by the officers. The rewards they get are inexpensive and infrequent, except for the satisfaction they feel at the end of a shift, having done what they were expected to do.
I can tell you, our dispatchers are very special people.
I admire the work they do every day to keep our officers, deputies, fire fighters and paramedics safe. And our dispatchers not only keep our first responders safe, our dispatchers help connect our first responders to those who need our help as quickly as possible.
I am proud to say that our dispatchers are true heroes, committed and noble individuals who work tirelessly to ensure our safety. On behalf of our entire community—we thank you, dispatchers, for all you do.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.