911 dispatchers recognized as first responders

911 dispatchers recognized as first responders

LUBBOCK, Texas -

 

Before an officer shows up on a scene a dispatcher gathered all the information from the 911 call. It prepares police, paramedics or fire crews for whatever situation they're about to enter in to.

On September 1, 2019, 911 dispatchers will be recognized as first responders in the eyes of the law. The bill will provide more state benefits, training and protections.

According to Melissa Orosco, a dispatcher for 23 years, it's long overdue.

"None of the firemen, EMTs or police are going to respond until you talk to a dispatcher for one of those agencies," she said.

When a call comes in, dispatchers ask as many questions as possible. They type it into the system. At the same time, they locate and contact officers who need to respond.

" I think a lot of times I probably feel bad for them just because I think the multi tasking that has to occur is really just incredible." Sergeant Jason Lewis with Lubbock Police said.

According to Orosco, the center answers around 40,000 calls every month.

She said she remembers several of them, like her co-workers.

"I spoke with a female once early in my career here. She had been run over by a truck and a trailer and he left her in the street. She didn't know where she was," Orosco recalled. "But she was scared to death. Those stick with you. You've got to try to move on, but they do because that was probably two years into my career here and I still remember it like it was yesterday."

Dispatchers have suffered from post traumatic stress, "We hear you on your worst day," Orosco said. "Nobody calls us on their best day."

Not only do the dispatchers stay on the phone to find out information, but calm down callers.
 

"They're there before and after whatever occurred and they're there for everything in between," Lewis stressed.


"We also never get an outcome unless we look it up later or see it in the news or something," Orosco added. "So that can weigh heavy on a dispatcher as well."

According to Orosco there's a nationwide shortage in communication centers. LPD is looking to hire a dispatcher. It recommends practicing the typing test if you're interested. 

 

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