There were 30,864 calls that rang into dispatch for assistance in the year of 2022.
Of those calls, 822 were hang up, open line or accidental. In addition to the calls, dispatch helped with 5,309 events for law enforcement involving traffic stops and warrant information. With each ring of the phone or radio transmission there was a dispatcher ready to answer.
One may ask, “how can there be a wrong number or accidental call?” The answer is in the question. An accidental call can happen when a cell phone is unlocked in the pocket, purse or even the console of the car. Maybe there was a child that picked up any phone to play with it. A wrong number can happen at any time. The cell phone had a glitch, or the numbers were stuck.
On many occasions, the wrong number is received from a land line from companies or businesses that must dial the number “9” to connect to an outside line. Recently there have been many wrong numbers from people looking for the state of Texas. When they search for the number (usually Houston, Texas), our non-emergency dispatch line is one that populates first.
Throughout these calls and many others, dispatch is still there answering the phone and helping any way possible. Dispatchers are usually the first voice that someone needing assistance, hears. With this comes many situations, some with understanding individuals, some not so much. Here are a few comments that dispatch has had to endure more often than one would think:
“I need to talk to someone that can help, not just a dispatcher.”
“Get off the phone and get here.”
“Why are you asking all these questions? Just get here.”
“Shut up and send help.”
Just as there are callers that are not happy with dispatch or may not understand, there are phrases like these that help make the day a little brighter.
Heard after a mother called in when her two-year-old choked on a piece of hard candy: “…She is breathing again…”
When a grandma was home alone and had a laceration for her leg, called and asked for help, it was a dispatcher that gave lifesaving instructions.
“I can’t get the bleeding to stop! What do I do? …Yes, that worked! It worked! Thank you!”
Some statements from random callers that were helped one way or another:
“If it was not for you, I am not sure he would have made it.”
“I just wanted to thank the dispatcher for being so calm and helping me.”
“I know that I was a mess and I apologize for being so ugly. Thank you for still helping me and sending help.”
“Thank you; just thank for talking with me while I waited.”
Texas County is the largest county in Missouri in land mass only. This means there is a lot of land, roadways and space to cover, with limited resources. There are many dedicated people that work in public service for our county. The fire departments are volunteer, and most must leave home or their place of employment to respond to the firehouse, then to the emergency. Dispatch explains to callers that help has been notified, or help is on the way every day. Many minutes are spent advising that they have been dispatched, they are driving from a certain location.
There are a few reasons that callers may question if help is on the way. The main one, and the one that dispatch understands for each call, is that the concept of time changes in an emergency. What may have been only two minutes feels like 20. Also, the county is big, and some do not realize the amount of time it takes to travel the different areas. Another is people new to the area do not have the understanding that resources are limited for the area, and it is not like it is where they may have moved from and most definitely not like it is on television.
I try to stress this very often and I will again today: Please have your address marked at your driveway, or somewhere highly visible at the end of the roadway. Assuming that they will know where you are located can be and, in the past, has been a deadly mistake. I understand that the family has been in that area for years and years. What most don’t understand is that the ones responding to help you may have just moved to the area or maybe new to the law, EMS or fire profession. The field responders are looking for that address, dispatch needs to know at least a close address, crossroads, names may not populate in the mapping or in the CAD, especially you have never called in the past.
It takes a special person to enter public service and even more special for the first responder side. I am positive that Texas County has some of the most dedicated law enforcement, EMS, fire and dispatch around. All have worked together in helping the public in countless ways, as they will continue to in the future.
Thank you all the citizens that continue to support all the responders – those seen and not seen.
The Texas County Emergency Services office in Houston is funded by a 3/8-cent countywide sales tax approved by voters in 2013. Director Terra Culley can be reached by phone at 417-967-5309 or by email at email@example.com.