Within the Trenches – A story from behind the mic

For years now I have heard this after saying what I do for a living, “Wow, that sounds interesting. So what’s your best or worst call?” Now, I’ve heard this many times and at first I was annoyed with it. I never wanted to say what I did for a living but then I thought about it. Why exactly do people want to know about what I do? The general public’s curiosity made me even more curious. After talking to several people I found out that they want to know because it’s not something you hear about that often. What we do for a living is very interesting and people really want to hear our stories.

All this curiosity has made me more than happy to talk about what I do. I’ve been in this line of work for a long time and I have heard just about everything you can think of. I’ve taken suicidal calls, medical calls, shootings, funny calls, car chases, and many more. I could blow your mind with the calls I’ve taken and you would be left with the question, “How do you do this for a living?” My answer would be, “It’s what I do and I’m damn good at it.” I have also shared moments with my work family that will never be forgotten and to explain it to someone would only scratch the surface of those specific moments. It’s these stories that I want to share with people; the calls you don’t hear and are curious about.

One time I was working the night shift with two of my co-workers. The night was rather calm and I was on radios. We talked throughout the night, which seemed to drag on, and a trooper keys up on the radio and says that he’s checking a residence for a girl that was possibly being held there by her boyfriend. I asked if he wanted any status checks and he said he was 10-5. This means that he doesn’t need any status checks. My co-workers and I went back to chatting and a couple minutes into the call an officer yelled something that no one ever wants to hear.

“SHOTS FIRED, SHOTS FIRED, OFFICER HIT.”

I can’t describe the feeling that went over me but my co-workers and I jumped into action to get an ambulance out to the scene to stage and direct other officers to assist those who were out at the house. It was unnerving to be in the dark of what was going on out there. We knew the gist but the specifics were unclear. We helped by looking up info on the house and it’s possible occupants. Anything the officers asked for we did it. After that we sat there as each officer called out his or her perimeter location. The standoff lasted past our shift and when I got home I couldn’t sleep. After a while I had to force myself to go to bed. When I woke up I looked online for the news story. It turned out that the suspect was arrested, one person died, and the officer who was shot was fine.

Moments like this happen at any time and I’ve seen my fair share. My experience in dispatch is not only interesting but it’s amazing. It’s something I want to share with everyone and I want you, the readers of this blog, to know more about what we as 9-1-1 dispatcher’s go through during these moments. It is also the basis of a Kickstarter project I started that will include a live podcast featuring the stories of 9-1-1 dispatchers. This podcast would give you a better idea of what we do and deal with. It will also start with dispatch but eventually I would like to add police, fire, and EMS. I will provide a link below to the Kickstarter page for pledges and rewards. Any help you can provide would be appreciated. My fellow dispatchers and I have many stories and this is just one way you can hear about them.

(Kickstarter – Within the Trenches Project Page)