From the trenches…

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Posted April 17, 2024 |

In honor of National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, which starts the second week of April, we asked first responders how 911 call takers and dispatchers help them respond.

Lt. Paul Bloom of Marion County Sheriff’s Department wrote:

In October 2021, MCSO’s dispatchers had a challenging call for a shooting. During the call, some dispatchers were working on communicating information about the shooting to other agencies, some were doing investigative work to help identify the suspect such as working with a third-party vehicle locating service and dispatching deputies on multiple channels. The success of any investigation begins at the point of dispatch. Due to the diligence these employees demonstrated that day, our investigation was streamlined, our deputies on the road were kept informed and our surrounding agencies witnessed the professionalism that the MCSO brings.

There are a lot of calls where dispatchers have information that they are passing along to the deputies while they are en route to a call. This happens daily. From personal experience, the deputy is responding to the call trying to get there as fast as possible. A lot of information is being sent to the computer in the deputy’s car but, to try and look at that information while heading to the call is impossible. So, we rely heavily on the information that they are giving over the radio. It’s true multitasking on the part of the deputy and dispatcher alike. Being on scene and dealing with all of the involved victims and offenders on any given call can be very challenging. The dispatchers know this. That deputy is trying to remain safe and keep others safe while breaking up a fight, arriving at the scene of a homicide, a car crash, or just investigating a call.

So, when a dispatcher “puts themselves on the scene” with that deputy by feeding them information, researching license plates or previous calls for service at that particular address, that takes a lot off of the deputy and allows them to focus on safety. The dispatcher becomes very invested into the call with the deputy, and it is a beautiful partnership. The “tip of the spear” cannot be effective without being one with the “handle of the spear.” Their jobs, just like that of a deputy, can go from mundane to madness in under a minute.

To be honest, with all that they are trying listen to and to speak to in the middle of a call, I don’t know how they could do that and even chew gum at the same time. It may be easier to juggle fiery torches.

From Ocala Police Department:

We had an occasion where our call taker used her protocol to talk a wife into helping her husband who was having a cardiac arrest situation. They were driving and pulled over and the call taker talked the wife through getting her husband out of the car and onto his back and started CPR over the phone.

The medics then arrived along with Ocala Fire Rescue and they felt if they had not started CPR immediately as our call taker instructed, the gentleman may not have survived.

Recently, after a terrible inclement rain, we were faced with roads with heavy water and, of course, car accidents. The dispatchers documented these occasions and used the information to help direct units around the roadway issues to get the responder to the citizen, to assist as fast as possible.

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