A project by Within the Trenches Podcast Facebook Page Admin Shae.
Two years ago, I shared an article where the state of Tennessee was looking at making the status of their 911 Dispatchers “public safety” employees rather than “office clerical”.
And someone suggested that I was “denigrating” secretaries everywhere with this information. An article mind you, not written by me.
That struck a nerve with me then, and it’s still something that bothers me now. Not her words so much, but the fact that it’s two years later and we’re no closer to being realized for who we really are – the first, first responders.
So as a tribute to us, I’m asking for dispatch agencies all across the globe to send us a picture from your agency of what it really looks like in the throws of dispatch. Within the Trenches.
I’m asking for realistic, preferably candid photos of you or your team members, taken in your center. I want to tell a story through pictures, the heartache of hearing someone’s last breath, the helplessness of hearing the phone clatter to the ground – unable to help the person on the other end, the exhaustion on the faces of dispatchers after tragedy found their community.
I want people to watch this video and see in our faces that we are more than “just” secretaries. We are the first, first-responders. #IAM911
A few rules:
- No up close views of your CAD
- Realistic, preferably candid photos. (no smiling group photos for this project)
- Send your photos to the page or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
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By Ricardo — 4 years ago
As of today I have four shifts left in dispatch. It has been a hell of an adventure. There are so many stories and close friendships that I have made that I have lost count. Yesterday my center held an open house for my assistant director and I. It was good to spend some quality time with my second family. My director and training coordinator said a few words and we all shared in the laughter and tears. At the end of the open house we sat around and told stories. It would have been a great episode to record but the memory will remain with me. It’s hard to put what I felt into words but it was great nonetheless.
I received a few cards from my co-workers, which were great but I waited to open them until I was in the office by myself and for good reason. The kind words left me speechless and I cried a little bit. I’m happy to start my new adventure but it is also hard to say goodbye. For example, one of my co-workers was leaving and she asked if she would see us in the next couple of days and we said no because we are on the opposite side. She stared for a moment and I asked, “Is this it?”
“Yes…” she replied.
I jumped up and gave her a hug and she told me to promise to stay in touch. It was a bittersweet moment. Thank you for always making me laugh Michelle! Before that I was in the office and my assistant director walked in. She asked if I was working the following day and I told her yes but it turned out that she would be gone before I got there. We hugged and said our goodbyes. It was an emotional farewell since we were both moving on from dispatch and she had been my trainer and one of my biggest supporters. Thank you Tammy for being there for me. I appreciate it more than you know. I am honored to have met and worked with you my friend.
It’s friendships like this that make it hard to leave but it is something I have to do. Now, there are many more people I have to thank but I will leave that for my next post. As of today I have four shifts left in dispatch. I’m on the homestretch but it’s hard to say goodbye.Post Views: 21
By Ricardo — 5 years ago
The idea of this project actually began several years ago. I had just started working at Allegan County Central Dispatch and I noticed a significant difference from my previous dispatch positions. The calls were more frequent and the intensity was heightened. I was taking calls that I would have never imagined being someone on the outside. One day I was messing around on my computer and I made a movie teaser trailer that consisted of a black background and words describing the job of a 9-1-1 dispatcher. I added music and posted it within Yahoo video’s and it was viewed many times. I even received comments saying that they couldn’t wait for summer of 2007 when this came out. Well this was simply an idea at the time and since then the idea has evolved.
I think the reason I kept up with it is because so many people had questions about my job and what I do. The curiosity of the public was so great that I felt the need to keep this idea alive. So, two years ago I created a video for my Digital Storytelling class that featured two of my co-workers. They shared a couple 9-1-1 stories and how they got into dispatching. From there the idea spawned an audio journalism piece as well as another video. The popularity of them and the curiosity of the public has pushed me to this Kickstarter project. People are interested in what we do as 9-1-1 operators and this is a way to let them in on our profession. I’m including the video that started my push and thank you all for pledging. I appreciate it more than you know. Keep sharing folks and we will hit the mark in no time.
Make sure to check out our Kickstarter project page and pledge and share!Post Views: 23
By Ricardo — 7 years ago
For this entry I would like to talk about a call I took that rocked me to my core. When I think back it still gives me goosebumps. This situation was enough for me to write a memoir on it for a class I had several months ago. The memoir was suppose to be about something that occurred in my life that made me change something. I wrote about growing up with my siblings and thinking that nothing could ever break us apart. My brother and I were close but I somewhat took him for granted because I felt he would always be there. It took one extreme moment to finally make me realize that at any moment a loved one can be stripped away from you. Cherish the time that you have because you never know when it will end. The following is an excerpt from my memoir and I cut it as short as possible because it is six pages long. The names in the memoir other than my own and my brother are made up as well as the address. No identities are revealed here what so ever.
“9-1-1 where’s your emergency?”
This is something I asked every day and you always know when you are going to have a bad call. I say this because as soon as you pick up the phone you hear the screams. They are the screams of a horror movie except this horror is real. This call was no different and I immediately heard what I thought were two women screaming.
“Ma’am? Hello? Ma’am can you hear me?”
The screaming continued, the camel hair on the back of my neck stood at attention. My co-worker to the right looked toward me and I shook my head not knowing what was going on.
“Ma’am can you hear me?”
When a caller is screaming hysterically, secondary voices are just background. It takes a little longer to get through but you do the best you can. The screams of heartache and tragedy continued. I brought my voice down to a whisper to almost trick the caller into thinking there was no one there.
“Ma’am can you hear me?”
“Hello?! Is someone there?”
“Yes”, I answered with authority. “What’s your address?”
She stumbled over her words as the person in the background continued to scream. I could hear stuff being thrown around and I thought it was a domestic call.
“4357 Madison Dr.”, she blurted, trying to hold back from a melt down.
She continued with her name and phone number and the screams were growing. Something else had happened here but the caller was hard to understand. The police were already on their way and I was first in line to figure out what happened.
“Ma’am? I need to know what is going on.”
“I can’t believe he did it,” yelled a person in the background.
The screams turned into rage and the voice in the background sounded more and more like a male.
“Julie what’s going on? Who else is there?”
“It’s just me and my fiancé.”
“Who was screaming in the background? I thought there was another girl there with you?”
“No, that was him.”
“Why were you screaming? The police are on their way but you need to tell me what is going on.”
“Well my fiancé John, his brother Mike, and I were at the bar. Mike just got out of a relationship and he’s been depressed for the past week now. He kept telling us that he…that he…”
“That he was going to do what Julie?”
“That he was going to kill himself and we brushed it off.”
I frantically typed as she spoke and officers were almost there. One of my co-workers had already sent EMS to stage in the area until we knew for sure what was going on. My body was hot and sweat began to build between my ear and the phone.
“Then what happened?”
“We…we got home and he started saying it again. John went and got a shotgun, and told him that if he was going to do it to go ahead. He didn’t think he was going to do it but he shot himself in the head.”
I gasped and held my breath for a moment. I fell into their shoes and the thought of losing my younger brother swarmed my senses. Thinking that he would always be there was just me lying to myself. Tragedy could strike at any moment and I was currently listening to a grown man scream for his brother.
“Where is John now? Where’s the gun?”
“I don’t know? I think he went…Oh my god!”
“What’s going on Julie?!”
“John’s got the gun, he’s got it!”
For a moment I thought I would hear a gunshot. He yelled and screamed that it was his fault and that he did not think his brother would do it. I could feel his pain and I thought of my brother.
“Go to a different room Julie! Get away from him!”
“He just put it back down and went back outside…I’ll put it away.”
The police arrived and Julie broke down. The adrenaline was slipping away and she was no longer the strong one. She broke just as John did and I felt their pain within me. The call lasted less than six minutes but when taking a phone call like this, it’s a lifetime.
Afterward, I only thought of my brother. I thought about how I treated him and how I thought he would always be there. Nothing could tear us apart but after taking this call I realized that it could easily end before either of us knew it. When my shift ended I called my brother. It was very early in the morning but I had to speak to him.
“Rich? What’s wrong man?”
“I love you dude.”
“What? I love you too.”
“No man, I’m serious.”
I told him about my call. I told him that it killed me inside to think that I could lose him as fast as the people that dealt with their own loss. It finally made sense to me and it took a tragedy for me to come to this conclusion. It’s funny how it takes something extreme for one to realize the truth but maybe that is what we need; a swift kick in the ass to jump start the senses and the mind. After I told my brother about the call he understood why I needed to speak to him so bad. He replied with,
“I love you man.”Post Views: 23