On April 14th a good friend and co-worker passed away unexpectedly. I’ve written two posts about our last conversation and the bond that is built around work families. It’s been hard for us at work but I can’t even begin to imagine what his family is going through. I’m sure they are doing everything they can to manage but let’s help them do more then just manage. A fundraiser has been put together for the family. It will take place tomorrow May 2nd between 5p.m. and 8p.m. at Uccello’s of Wayland 700 W Superior St. Let’s do everything we can to fill Uccello’s to its maximum capacity and support the Tatrow family. I have provided the flyer that the Sheriff’s department created and I ask that you share this post with as many people possible in support of this fundraiser. Cheers!
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By Ricardo — 6 years ago
A while back I posted on the show’s Facebook fan page regarding dispatch stories and guest posts. Up until about a week ago I had not received anything but recently I met a fellow dispatcher who was more than willing to share her story. Her enthusiasm and love for the job led her to many years of service behind the mic as well as becoming a writer, speaker and advocate. It is my hope that this inspiring story will encourage more people in the 9-1-1 community to step forward and share their story as a guest blog post or be a guest on the show. A big thanks goes out to Kathy for sharing her story and years of service. Please comment below, share this post and if you would like to do a guest post of your story please email me at email@example.com with the subject of “Within the Trenches – Dispatch Stories.” And without further ado, the dispatch story of Kathy.
“I joined Bay Shore Brightwaters Rescue Ambulance in the very early 80’s as a dispatcher because I couldn’t have managed the time constraints of EMT school. I was already working full time, going to school full time and raising my son alone. All I could manage, I thought, was the 6-8 hours a week to volunteer as a dispatcher. Because of all the other things I was doing, I chose to be a midnight dispatcher. The dispatch system was, in hindsight, so archaic. They allowed us to dispatch from home with a portable radio and home phone ~ but with an in house crew. There wasn’t always an in house crew so my living about half an hour away from Headquarters was a problem. The “tones” would go off and I would call HQ to see who was in the house and if anyone else was responding. More often than not we (Dispatchers) didn’t even know who was on the rig until they were back at HQ after the call when and if they called me to square away times etc. My job was to listen to the portable and jot down the times as heard between my rig and Med Com (Medical Communications). Every Dispatcher was responsible for lining up an overnight crew whether they pulled duty from home or HQ. If no crew was available, we then had to call Med Com and 24 the call to a neighboring Agency. As senseless as all that seemed to me, even back then, the Dispatcher didn’t seem to be all that important to the “riding” members. That really bugged me because every chance I got I went on calls with many of them to observe. I was soon voted into the Supervisor Of Dispatch position, which at that time was an Officers position. This was even before there was a Board of Directors at most Volunteer Ambulance Companies. As Supervisor my responsibilities grew and I found myself spending an awful lot of time at HQ. Dispatching from home was no longer an option but my position was met with great resistance by Heads of other Committees because, after all, I was just a Dispatcher. What could I possibly know about what type of crew was needed for which emergency? THIS bugged me to no end. There were charges filed against me and vice versa and was something that was constantly being addressed at the Officers Meetings. Shortly thereafter the members of BSBRA formulated the differences between the Officers and what we were inducting as The Board Of Directors. This delineation was eliminating the Officers position of Supervisor of Dispatch. Not the position itself but as an Officer. After a while, the politics and egos of all the new positions was just too much drama for me. I had been having serious health issues so I resigned from Bay Shore Rescue.
When my health returned I joined Brentwood Legion Ambulance. THEY seemed to appreciate the position of Dispatcher and were interested and excited about what I could bring to their organization having been at Bay Shore. There seemed to be a lot of walk in patients HQ by members of our community where only a Dispatcher was in house. I saw that as a problem and started looking in to how we could better train Dispatchers to assist the riding members with situations such as this. I had heard about the National Academy Of Emergency Medical Dispatchers (NAEMD) based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. This certification enabled a Dispatcher to give life saving instructions over the phone to stabilize a patient while dispatching an appropriate crew depending on the color code of the call. It didn’t do much to solve the “walk in” situation but did take Dispatching to a whole other level. Now to figure out how to get this done. I had also heard that Miles Quinn from Suffolk County Fire Rescue and Emergency Services had actually taken the steps needed to have his Dispatchers Certified. I, as a Dispatcher, couldn’t seem to get an appointment with the Board of Directors to address this situation so I asked Miles Quinn if he would address our Board and explain the whole thing and all it’s possibilities. He agreed, met with the Board and the Board said they would be interested IF it didn’t cost them any money. Back in the early 90’s, the cost per Dispatcher/per 3 day course was in the mid $200 range. I saw that as a challenge. I figured out that if Brentwood actually holds the classes and books enough Dispatchers, our Dispatchers would all be trained for free. First order of business was to get a listing of ALL Agencies in the Tri State area that used Dispatchers whether paid or volunteer and do a mailing. The feedback and interest was great ~ much more than I had anticipated. It was so exciting to see that process take on a momentum all it’s own. Long story short we at BLA, at my direction, held a good 8-10 classes of maybe 50 Dispatchers each. The classes lasted three full days, I had made arrangements with a local hotel to house a block of out of town Dispatchers for a discounted rate ~ I served coffee, tea and bagels and got hundreds of Dispatchers Nationally Certified through NAEMD. The New England Journal of Emergency Medicine interviewed me for an article they were running, printing portions of the letters I sent out to the various Agencies in the Tri State area ~ most of whom were from all over the State of New York. It, very quickly, became mandatory for ALL Dispatchers to have NAEMD Certification before dispatching anywhere. I stayed with Brentwood for a while longer and then my life took yet another turn and had to resign. I kept my EMD certification for a number of years recertifying when needed.
As a result of all my involvement with EMS and having worked in several ER’s simultaneously through the years my son, who was raised while I was at Bay Shore and joined Brentwood with me, became a member in Bay Shore and eventually became one of their Chiefs. Now my oldest grandchild is joining an explorer group with Brentwood becoming third generation Whittaker volunteering for a Rescue Squad making me extremely proud of everything I have managed to do. Yes, there are MANY people who have done much more than I but it is my experience you asked me about and this pretty much sums it up. Now all these years later, I am no longer EMD certified but the status of Emergency Medical Dispatcher has forever changed and continues to go forward. I am registered with the Smart911 Pulse Point system so that if someone in my area goes into cardiac arrest I will be alerted via my smartphone and respond to the scene pending an ambulance. The position of Dispatcher, for advanced as it has become, is still (in my humble opinion) under rated. I do, however, have great faith it will continue to grow and can only hope it will, one day, get the respect it deserves! Thank you for taking an interest in my history as a Dispatcher.”Post Views: 413
By Ricardo — 8 years ago
Lately I have been talking about the good and the bad of 911 dispatch. Today I would like to talk about the funny stuff that happens. This is the stuff that no one hears about unless you’re a co-worker or a friend who has heard or read our stories. I know I have written about a few already but here are some more to tickle your funny bone. When you think of 911 dispatch you think about emergency calls, police, ems, and the fire department. The majority of the calls we get on 911 are non-emergency. Most of the people who call on 911 with a non-emergency call will ask for the non-emergency number but we take their call on 911 either way. They are going to get us anyway so we take it. Those are the nice people. We also get calls from people who start yelling and swearing at us because they’re upset with their neighbors dog running in their yard and tell us to just get someone out there before they shoot it. These people are not nice and are ones that we talk to almost every other day.
The frequent callers are also the ones that make my job interesting and funny. I remember dealing with a couple who were always calling about their arguments. Every time the officers went out there they would end up clearing the address without anything being resolved. Now, it wasn’t because the officers didn’t do their jobs, it was because the couple kept saying that they were fine and didn’t need our help. Well, one day I took a call from them and I was speaking to the soon to be ex-husband who I will call Jake. The poor guy was upset because his wife, who I will call Emily, was fed up and ready to move out. Before I move on I want to make sure you understand that I’m not trying to be a jerk here. No domestic situation is ever funny but sometimes the information is misunderstood and you just have to go with the flow and laugh it off. I could hear Emily yelling in the background saying that all Jake cared about was their little girl. I figured she was talking about their daughter but I was wrong.
“Sir, are you ok?”
“Where is Emily at?”
“She’s at the house and I’m at the end of the driveway with our little girl waiting for the officer.”
“Ok, so whose all involved? It’s you, Emily, and…”
“Our little girl. She’s so upset.”
“Yeah? How old is she?”
“She’s almost 5 years old sir.”
“Yeah! You just wait until the officers get here! I’m outta here”, Emily yelled in the distance.
I started to hear a yelp or crying of some sort.
“Sir is that your daughter crying?”
“Yeah…you said you were with your little girl.”
“Oh…no she’s not my daughter. She’s my dog.”
EGG ON MY FACE! The whole time I thought this was the guys daughter and it was actually his dog. I could hear it yelping more and more and Jake began to sniffle as well. What else could I do or say?
“Sir are you ok?”
“Yes, but my little girl is upset and I’m getting upset as well.”
I took a deep breath and went for it.
“Well sir, the officers will be there soon. Just hold her and comfort her. Let her know it will be okay.”
“It’s ok honey. Everything will be alright.”
I couldn’t believe it worked. At first I wanted to hold up the phone so that I could chuckle. I mean, why would I tell the guy to comfort his dog? It seemed hilarious but it actually worked and Jake, as well as his dog, were able to calm down. Calls like this one can go either way. You can say something that will ultimately help or you can say something that will make you feel like a jerk. For example, I have taken calls where I…well, let me put it in dialog form. It will work better that way.
“Can you hear me? Hello, are you there?”
“Yes, I can hear you now. I think someone is trying to break into my house and my dad is at work.”
“Ok, where is your mom at?”
“Um…she died a few years ago.”
D’oh! This is the kind of conversation that sucks because you’re thrown off your game and you think for a moment that you just jacked up your call.
“I’m really sorry.”
“Oh it’s fine. You didn’t know she was dead. I do miss her though.”
So now the caller is thinking about her deceased mother instead of the person who is breaking into the house. Another example comes from a call that I posted where I thought I was speaking to a Carl and it turned out to be a Carol. Calls like this are very funny but it’s only afterward that you’re able to laugh. At the moment of FAIL there is no time to laugh. One can only apologize for the mistake and hope for the best. There are also calls where we speak to the disturbed. These are the calls that take good speaking skills and customer service. When you take a call from someone who hates you for no reason you have to take it like a professional. Let’s look at some dialog.
“911 where’s your emergency?”
“Hello? What’s your address?”
“You don’t need my address! You just need to listen!”
“Ok sir, take a deep breath.”
“I will take nothing! You need to copy down this number and call it! It’s a matter of national security man!”
I didn’t know what to think at first. The guy was calling from a pre-paid phone and had no GPS coordinates so there was no way for me to locate him.
“Yes sir, go ahead.”
He gave me the number and I could hear him huffing and puffing.
“Now! You need to call this number and tell them they are trying to hurt the President!”
“Sir, what number is this?”
“It’s to the Whitehouse man! You need to call them!” *click*
The guy hung up on me and I chuckled a little. He called a few more times and yelled at me like you wouldn’t believe. What else could I do but laugh after each call. Think of Sam Kinison yelling at you over and over for no reason and saying things that would make the devil blush. That was my night and when I finally got the chance I called the number.
“Whitehouse switchboard how may I direct your call?”
I was speechless…
“Hi…umm…I wasn’t expecting anyone to answer the line.”
“Well my name is Ricardo with 911 dispatch and there was a guy calling about…”
Before I could go any further the operator said the guys name.
“Yeah that’s him.”
“Oh yeah, we’ve taken several calls from that guy. He’s harmless.”
We shared a chuckle and hung up. I couldn’t believe that the guy actually called the Whitehouse with the stuff he was telling me. I got a few more calls from him over time but in the end he was able to get the help he needed. It’s the calls like the ones I have mentioned that make my job so interesting. I have dealt with every type of call you can think of. It takes thick skin, good customer service, and common sense to do what I do but the most important thing you need is a good sense of humor.Post Views: 1,394
By Ricardo — 4 years ago
Within the Trenches is back! Episode 107 is sponsored by INdigital – A leader in Next-Gen Core Services. In this episode I sat down with my brother Fernando to tell some personal stories that include a possible UFO sighting and a 9-1-1 tape of those sightings. A shoutout goes to OpenMinds – UFO News and Investigations for the short story and the audio. Also the Sons and Daughters of Dispatch decals are available for purchase so get yours while you can! Another shoutout goes to Heather of Absolute Photography in Holland, MI for assisting with the first few orders of vinyl decals. You do amazing work and if anyone is looking for vinyl Heather is your top choice!
This episode is a must listen so make sure to check it out and share! As always if you have any questions or you would like to be a guest on the show send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Episode topics –
Post Views: 592
- Santa came early
- House break-in
- UFO sighting