It is early morning and the dispatch crew have had a slower night, until it was not.
These wonderful people are trained to be great and handle the situations as they arise. This morning is no different. Megan and Zach are at their stations at the ready, about six a.m. the phone rings.
Megan: “9-1-1, where is your emergency?
Caller: “I need you to come out here and pick her up she is not feeling well again.”
Megan: “What is your address?”
The caller was not being cooperative at all and was giving dispatch a hard time with answering any questions. Megan was able to talk with him and explain the needed information for the ambulance to start out there. She was able to obtain the address and community. Zach had the ambulance dispatched as soon as the address was obtained.
Megan: “What is your phone number?”
Caller: “What does that matter? Just get here!”
Megan: “How old is she?”
Caller: “Are you coming or not?”
Megan: “My partner has already notified and ambulance, I have a few more questions to help them before they arrive.” Can you tell me what is going on with her today?”
Caller: “Same as last time she is having one of those spells.”
Megan: “What kind of spell?”
Caller: “Just get here!”
The caller hung up refusing to answer any more questions from Megan. These questions could be lifesaving and very vital for the responding ambulance. Depending on the answers, Megan would have been able to help or instruct the caller what to do until the ambulance did arrive.
Phone rings in.
Megan: “9-1-1, where is your emergency?”
Caller: “You damn well know where I am, and why aren’t you here yet?”
Megan and Zach had already handled two other calls since this caller had called the first time. Thankfully Megan was able to recognize his voice. He is very irrational and using many expletives with Megan. From training and experience, Megan keeps a calm tone and continues to try and talk to the caller. With the demeanor of the caller and not knowing for sure what was going on a Texas County deputy was also dispatched to the address. This was mainly for the safety of the ambulance crew responding. Also, a deputy may be able to make it to the residence before the ambulance and advise of the medical situation.
Megan: “Sir, the ambulance is on the way, can you tell me how she is doing?”
Caller: “She is sitting there in the chair same as earlier.”
Megan: “Is she having any pain?”
Caller: “I called 30 minutes ago, and you are worrying about asking questions instead of getting here and helping her.”
Megan: “Sir, I assure you that the ambulance is on the way and driving as fast as possible.”
The caller hung up on once again. Megan and Zach both were looking into the history of the address to try to find any medical information that may help the responding crews. Nothing was to be found.
Not only were they trying to help this responding crew and caller, but there were also two other medical emergencies taking place along with a vehicle fire during the same time frame. They were able to dispatch all units as needed.
Some insight on this call:
06:04 Call received.
06:06 Ambulance dispatched. (Would have been sooner if the caller had cooperated).
06:09 Ambulance was responding.
06:09 Caller hang up.
06:12 Caller calls back in.
06:13 Deputy is dispatched; they were out in the county closer to the area.
06:25 Deputy arrives on scene with the ambulance pulling in behind them.
Due to confidentiality, I will never write about an actual call that has taken place, but I do use historically close-call scenarios. Meaning that yes, a call similar to this has taken place – not once, but many times. Dispatchers are the frontline and often hear and experience the outrage and abuse from callers.
It is understood that someone involved in an emergency may be under duress and not sure how to handle the situation. Dispatchers are trained to talk to these types of callers and do almost daily. This does not make it any easier for them.
They are also professional and will never talk to any caller differently, even though they recognize and know the history of a certain caller. Just because it may not be recognized as an emergency to everyone, to that caller it is their emergency and dispatch will treat it as so.
Please keep in mind that dispatchers are first on scene as soon as they answer your call. However, they are stationed in a building and will not be responding to your physical location. They obtain information and relay that to the best of their ability. This meaning if the caller is not forth coming or providing false information that will be relayed to the responding units as it was provided. Dispatchers are able to provide lifesaving instructions until the responding units arrive, if allowed or accepted by the caller.
We are fortunate here in Texas County, all the agencies are willing to help and look out for one another including the citizens. This call being an example, the deputy responding to ensure the safety of the ambulance crew, but also to try to get any medical information sooner rather than later.
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 email@example.com.