National Public Safety Telecommunicators week highlights local dispatchers
April 8-14 marks this year's National Public Safety Telecommunicators week. According to Kris Fox, the communications manager for Brazos County 9-1-1, dispatchers are more than just the voice on the other side of a call.
"We may not be on the scene like the other first responders, but we really are here every day 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer the phone- and the phone doesn't ring more than two times, no matter what." said Fox.
Last year, dispatchers answered more than 200,000 calls. Although nearly 150,000 were non-emergency, the dispatchers treat every call equally.
"A lot of times, if it's something major that's going on, we'll stay on the line with them until the help can get there for them," said Joy Carrillo, who has been a dispatcher for 17 years.
Carrillo said on a busy day she answers up to 30 calls an hour, including life saving calls like helping someone perform CPR.
"Every dispatcher has helped someone through CPR, and whether or not the person makes it, we still do our best to walk the caller through every step and make sure they stay on the phone with us," said Carrillo.
Although most phone calls only last about 4 minutes, Carrillo said she wishes she could reconnect with the people who call in.
"That is the hardest part, not knowing whether or not the person made it, but sometimes we are lucky enough and the people who called in end up sending us a gift, but that happens so rarely," said Carrillo.
"We have to be able to keep the caller as calm as possible no matter what the situation is, and that can be tough, but that is our job, to make sure we are helping in any way we can before help arrives," said Fox.
During last Halloween, a dispatcher received a call from a man whose daughter was giving birth and, oddly enough, the caller happened to also be a dispatcher.
"One of our dispatchers called 9-1-1 because his daughter was giving birth and the dispatcher on the phone ended up walking him through the entire process, so that is something that we all will always remember," said Fox.
"I have walked callers through labor, CPR, and a lot of other things, but one that I will always remember is when I received a call from a student at Texas A&M who was here for orientation and happened to lose his mom," said Carrillo.
"Sometimes the outcome isn't always what you want it to be, which it can be sad, but we go through protocols and we make sure we can do whatever we can before first responders get there," said Fox.