Throughout the country, almost everyone is preparing for the celebration of the year.

Some spending many miles on the road to reach a destination. Many staying local within a few miles. Family and friends gathering, and children of all ages are running around playing. All the while, an elite group of people are spending their holiday in a dark secluded room awaiting the call.

Emergencies are never scheduled or planned. Dispatching heroes and their families do not get to celebrate as the rest of the country. First responders’ schedules do not take in account of birthdays, holidays or weekends. Dispatchers may have calls regarding many traumatic calls per shift. They are the first on scene for all emergencies, police, fire, medical and all others.

The following is a glimpse of what dispatch may incur throughout any day, including holidays.

Phone rings into dispatch:

Dispatcher: “9-1-1, where is your emergency?”

Caller: “There has been a wreck, we are traveling through on Highway 63.”

The time lapse for this accident was three minutes, from the first call to the last call. Within these three minutes, dispatch answered seven emergency calls, dispatched two fire departments, two ambulances and the correct law enforcement. There was one person trapped, another with minor injuries.

Phone rings into dispatch:

Dispatcher: “9-1-1, where is your emergency?

Caller: “He was just here; we are all here looking and can’t find him! Please help!”

Dispatcher: “Where are you?”

Talking with the caller it was determined that her three-year-old son wandered off from the family. The location was determined and another dispatcher immediately dispatched law enforcement to respond. While the original dispatcher was obtaining more details. The child had been playing with others and chasing the parachute fireworks as they landed. They believe he went into the wooded area looking for one that may have landed.

Dispatcher: “We have help on the way, what was he wearing?”

Caller: “He has a white shirt and blue shorts on. They were playing in the sprinkler and he doesn’t have any shoes on. Please hurry! Everyone is looking for him, we just can’t find him!”

Dispatcher: “Help is on the way. Is there anywhere he may have gone that has not been checked yet? In the house? Any barns? Is there somewhere he likes to go to play?”

Caller: “We checked everywhere, we are just visiting, and he is not here often. Oh! There he is! They have found him, my brother has him!”

The child was safe and unharmed. He had made his way back into the house and found some toys to keep him occupied.

Phone rings into dispatch:

Dispatcher: “9-1-1, where is your emergency?

Caller: “I am at my grandma’s house she is not feeling well, I am not sure of her address let me check.”

This call was a 78-year-old that was possibly having a stroke. Thanks to the quick actions of the granddaughter, dispatch was able to help and send assistance within that “golden hour.” The EMS crew requested a helicopter, and with help from the fire department it was able to land right in grandma’s field.

Phone rings into dispatch:

Dispatcher: “9-1-1, where is your emergency?”

Caller: “Highway 17; the bottle rocket hit her right in the ear.”

This call involved a 12-year-old that was enjoying the ritual past time, and she was unlucky to catch the bottle rocket just under her ear. Pre-arrivals were provided by the dispatcher while EMS was dispatched by the second dispatcher. 

Phone rings into dispatch:

Dispatcher: “9-1-1, where is your emergency?”

Caller: “Help! We are at the park and my uncle is choking!”

This was a 32-year-old man that was enjoying a barbecue when he started choking on a piece of meat. The dispatcher continued to talk to the caller while the second dispatcher sent EMS. Dispatch relayed pre-arrivals through the caller and was able to help dislodge the meat quickly. EMS arrived, evaluated, and talked with the patient.

Phone rings into dispatch:

Dispatcher: “9-1-1, where is your emergency?”

Caller: “Can you come over to my house? My mom and dad are fighting; me and my brother are scared.”

This call involved a whole family. The caller was an eight-year-old, and he and his brother were in their bedroom listening to their parents fight. He was able to describe to the dispatcher about the yelling and things being thrown. He had saw the parents hitting each other and was scared, because last time this happened one of the parents suffered injuries. Law enforcement was able to be dispatched immediately because the brave caller knew his address and the answers to all the questions. The dispatcher stayed on the phone and talked to him until the deputy was able to arrive on scene.

During this call, other calls rang into dispatch including:

A call reporting the neighbors being loud.

A call asking for directions to the fairgrounds.

A call reporting a speeding driver.

No matter the day, time of day or time of year, dispatch is there to answer your call. Although you may read these scenarios as they happen one at a time and another does not ring in until the previous one is finished, the universe just is not aligned in that manner. Dispatchers will often handle many emergencies in different stages at the same time. Simultaneously, dispatchers are also assisting law enforcement with traffic stops and other incidents. They are also continuously making sure all field responders are safe and fulfilling any request of assistance as needed from them.

Having a career in dispatch does not only affect the dispatcher, but it also involves their whole family. They must have an understanding support system at home. Unfortunately, these dedicated heroes have missed many events over their careers. Fortunately, there are a few occasions that can be celebrated on a different day or two. While you are celebrating with your family and friends this week and all other occasions, please remember these heroes awaiting with the calm voice to answer your call.

On behalf of Texas County 9-1-1, we would like to wish you a safe and happy Independence Day!

As the phone rings into dispatch…

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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