Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Big Picture

Back at it again on day shift (I hate it) 6AM-6PM.

A fellow blogger, Eric, at http://panic-e.blogspot.com/ had a harrowing story posted today when I made my usual pass at my link list. Eric has an always amusing and often fascinating blog and the post named "When Things Are Not Funny", is an excellent example of the later. It also brought to mind a bigger picture. The lack of respect, recognition and appreciation for what dispatchers do.

You can ask almost anyone of the general population and they really have no idea what we do. The ones that do, have a warped picture of us perpetuated by shows like the old William Shatner show "Emergency 911". That perception has caused us no end of problems. We'll go into that some other time. However, you would think that our associates in law enforcement and rescue, police and fire personnel, would understand what we do. They don't. They never spend any time in dispatch, so they have no appreciation for what dispatchers,like the one mentioned in Eric's blog, go through on a daily basis. No one sees the big picture. That's why it takes an extra special person to last in the dispatch center. It becomes more of a calling than a job. Virtually no one ever gives you recognition, appreciation or understanding and everyone you dispatch for is constantly looking for reasons to criticize you. If you don't have the strength of character you need to go back to that center day after day you'll do one of two things...quit or go nuts.

The calltaker who kept calling that woman back in Eric's post had what it takes. He/she went way out on a limb that could have been sawed out from underneath her/him. If that calltaker had stopped calling back they could have been libel and would have had to live with a disaster that could have ended everyone lives. By calling back the calltaker risked triggering the killing they were trying to prevent. Who would have gotten the blame? Not the police or fire personnel, not the boss or the county commissioners. The axe would have fallen on that calltaker. Can there be any greater hero than that? That's risk. That's caring. THAT'S A HERO! That's the BIG PICTURE.


Blogger mistyforeverlost said...

I'm one that never really *knew* what you guys did. Thank you for sending me over and allowing me a glimpse in. Your right, your guys are not given enough credit.

Thank you for all that you do and the lives that you save on a daily basis.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Thanks for the shout-out and the kind words. It's hard to explain why what I do is so stressful.

It's not being on the phone and having to make split second decisions and guide people to the safest situations (whether they like it or not) or being on the radio and having to be READY READY READY to react to the worst case scenario - an officer screams for help and you don't know where he/she is...

I think it's what happens after the scary call. That calltaker (who is a young woman and new mother... oh and my former recruit for what that was worth!)... she didn't get to take that call and go home. She worked the rest of her 12 hour shift answering calls from other mental health consumers, drunk people, stupid people fighting, people who have EMERGENCY parking problems (Dog Save Us!), etc. And she worked the radio where calls stack up and she had to figure out whether to break officers from their meal breaks to attend to the verbal arguements or car accidents .. or let them sit until another officer was available.

It's the ups and downs. Sometimes minute by minute, sometimes hour by hour. Add to that not enough sleep, sometimes not enough days off, equipment that doesn't always work as advertised, etc. It's the little things.

Oh and my stalker. But I'll post about that later :-)

Thanks again!

1:50 AM  
Blogger 911 Dispatcher said...

A few years ago there was a letter in our local paper. The writer was praising the fine work and response of the emergency agencies involved in an incident. He specifically mentioned the ambulance crew, officers and doctors. But not the 911 dispatchers who took the initial call. Now....ready...the writer was a local EMT!

11:05 PM  
Blogger Wadical said...

Media...you can't live with 'em....you can't live without 'em. I hate 'em. Never in search of the truth, they're more interested in what spin will get the most ratings.

I could get my picture in the paper with a big grin on my face, standing arm in arm with the person I was instrumental in saving, and that would NEVER mean as much to me as the affirmations and accolades of my peers. Their opinion matters most. If they say, "well done"....I know for a fact I did a good job.

This girl did an excellent job. I know she feels humbled by it all because she was just doing her job. But, that's what makes it all the more spectacular. We do these things every day. We expect it of ourselves. We set high standards and when we achieve them....well...we've just done what was expected. To stand out in a crowd of professionals who have such high standards is truly exceptional...that's why THEIR pats on the backs and attaboys mean the most.

I'm glad she had the chance to be recognized by other 9-1-1 professionals. Thanks to Eric for bringing such a great story to light.

2:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about no recognition, appreciation or understanding. I have been a 999 ambulance call taker and dispatcher for 6yrs and had none of the above. The only appreciation we get in this place is a leaving card when you go (a lot of people come and go in this place, can't take the pressure with nothing to show for it). Except for the satisfaction of helping people, and even then we're not always appreciated. Don't want to sound pessimistic, but I do get sick of hearing all those heroic stories of how the ambulance arrived and helped, (not putting them down, they do a great job!) but with no mention of us guys. Programs like casualty don't help, they give the illusion that the crews decide there they are going to stand-by themselves and never show the people taking the call (and the callers only ever stay on the line to give the address and say "get here quick", that’s probably why so many people try do that in real life).

6:00 PM  
Blogger PJ said...

Anonymous Clare,
That's why you won't find me putting up with this stress any longer than I absolutely have too. I take it you're in the UK, and if you're attched to the London area, I pity you the huge amount of calls I'm sure you get. Keep your chin up and try to let it go when you go home. That's the only way to survive.

11:07 AM  

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