9-1-1 Dispatchers Under Fire

By: Amanda O'Neal
By: Amanda O'Neal

This week is National Public Safety Telecommunications week. But lately 9-1-1 dispatchers have been getting a bad wrap after two incidents in Detroit in which 9-1-1 dispatchers didn't believe the callers.

Local officials spoke with News 3.

"The demands on the dispatchers are great. It's an emotional roller coaster at times with all the different things you have to deal with," said Zeta Fail, College Station's Communication manager.

Fails says College Station's 9-1-1 dispatchers go through an intense six-month training program to prepare for the rigors of the job. She was shocked to hear that a Detroit woman died because a 9-1-1 dispatcher thought it was a prank when the woman's son called for help. Fail says that would likely never happen in College Station.

"The bottom line is here in College Station if we have a child on the phone and we can't talk to an adult, an officer will be sent immediately," said Fail.

In fact, prank calls by kids have decreased in College Station over the last few years. Officials believe that is due in part to education in school about how to properly use 9-1-1.

There was another incident in Detroit when a woman called 9-1-1 after being shot in the head, and a dispatcher didn't believe her either.

"It's a tragedy to hear it and as communications professionals we're very saddened to know that that happened," said Fail.

Dispatchers must be able to multitask and decide what's a real emergency and what is not in a matter of seconds, but making the wrong decision could cost lives.

But there are also many times when dispatchers are heroes for their quick response to emergency calls. National Public Safety Telecommunications week recognizes that.

"It's sometimes a thankless job, so we like to take the time out each year to appreciate them and let them know that we do thank them for the professional job they do every day," said Fail.

If you think you have what it takes to be a dispatcher, College Station needs you. The city currently has some openings.


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