Everyone can see those heroes who are out in the community, putting their lives on the line day-to-day. We are grateful for these brave men and women who are within the police, fire and EMS. When they respond the public can put a face or uniform with the person. There will never be enough “thank yous” to tell these men and women how grateful we are for them.

The ones that you can’t see, the dispatchers, are sitting or standing behind a desk somewhere in a windowless room. There are endless callers, each year who advise the dispatcher they need real help, not “just a dispatcher!” These unseen heroes are more than just dispatchers.

Did you know that person you called “just a dispatcher” has the skills to save your life without even touching or seeing you? 

Just a dispatcher has the power to notify the ambulance while simultaneously tell you how to help save your choking child.

Just a dispatcher keeps track up to nine police officers, three ambulance crews and multiple firefighters all at the same time.

Just a dispatcher can locate you by asking key questions to send the correct help quickly.

Just a dispatcher goes hours without a bite to eat just to answer those endless calls for help.

Just a dispatcher is there to answer the call on everyone’s worst days.

Just a dispatcher has heard the gunshot whether it be self-inflicted, or someone has been shot.

Just a dispatcher talks to the scared child while giving the responding deputy directions to the domestic.

Just a dispatcher hears the loved one’s pleas for them to take one more breath.

Just a dispatcher is the first to hear the scene of many types, but will probably never know the outcome once the phone hangs up.

Just a dispatcher never knows what type of call they will answer. A dispatcher will ask all those questions to ensure the responding agency knows what type of scene they will be rolling up on.

Just a dispatcher spends many hours away from their family to help yours. Many family functions, holidays and school events are missed by dispatchers while they are answering your calls for help. Dispatchers do not get the privilege of stopping by a child’s ballgame or stepping away from the office to have dinner with family, while on duty. Dispatching is not a 9-to-5 job, it is an every second (all 31,536,000 seconds of the year) career. Emergencies are not scheduled events, therefore someone is always there to answer your call for help.

If this is what “Just a Dispatcher” does, then Texas County, I am proud to say, you only “just” have some of the best dispatchers around.

Dispatchers have supervisors who guide and review their work and making sure all is done correctly – just as everyone else. However, just a dispatcher also has fire departments, deputies, officers, EMS personnel and the public critiquing their every dispatch. A dispatcher may make one small mistake out of a thousand calls. That mistake will stand out in comparison to all the countless calls handled without a glitch.

No one remembers it was a dispatcher who calmed the caller down to get vital information. No one remembers it was just the dispatcher who informed the officer that the assailant had a gun. No one remembers it was a dispatcher who talked a scared wife through CPR instructions for her husband. No one remembers it was a dispatcher who talked to the frightened child on the phone, when they arrived home from school to find mom and dad were not there. 

Please consider this before the next time you call these unseen heroes “Just a Dispatcher.”

Have you thanked your dispatchers (telecommunicators) lately?

National Public Safety Telecommunications week is April 14-20. This week is set aside to celebrate such heroes as these; please join me and saying thank you to the ones behind the unseen voices of 911.

Check out our Facebook page to learn more about each of the dispatchers and great work that they do. 

The Texas County Emergency Services office in Houston is funded by a 3/8-cent countywide sales tax approved by voters in 2013. Assistant director Terra Culley can be reached by phone at 417-967-5309 or by email at terraculley911@hotmail.com.

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