BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — They’re the link between you and getting the help you need in the event of an emergency. Telecommunicators dispatch fire or police to the scene of an emergency.
They’re being honored this week during National Telecommunicators Week.
“We represent the county as a whole and here we have the sheriff’s office and we represent fire and EMS on our side of the room,” Communications Divisions Chief Brian Hardin said, “Across the county, there is probably over a hundred dispatchers spread out at different locations.”
24 hours a day, 7 days a week, someone is here to answer every single call.
“We actually dispatch around 200 calls in a 24 time period, including EMS and fire for our agency,” Hardin said. “The sheriff’s office matches us just a little bit more than we do. They have a little bit more responsibility.”
They’re required to complete more than 750 hours of training before they are allowed to answer the phones.
“We are able to talk you through most instances all the way from childbirth to CPR,” Hardin commented.
Some calls can result in a positive outcome but on other days the 12-hour shift can be challenging.
“If it’s one of those days where everything has just been traumatic. We’re a coastal community so we do have those days with double red flags where people get in and out of the water and can get very busy. So when we have days like that and you go home, you feel tired you’re dragging and you gotta come back and do it all over again the next day,” Hardin said.
People who call 911 make a big difference in the outcome.
“You need to know exactly where you’re at. If you don’t know where you’re at, just a general location if you can give us information on the buildings around, your names and businesses if you see street signs, and basically why you’re calling. Is it an injury? Is it an automobile accident? Is someone having a heart attack?” Hardin explained.
Dispatchers ask precise questions to know how to respond to an emergency. If you accidentally dial 911, it’s still important to answer all questions before hanging up.