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Home > Topics > Dispatcher
December 16, 2013
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The Question
by EMS1 Community

What does it feel like to be a 911 dispatcher?

Check it out and add your own thoughts in the comments

By EMS1 Staff

A question posted recently on Quora asked, “What does it feel like to be a 911 dispatcher?” Logan Hendrickson, an emergency medical dispatcher, gave his opinion on the topic below. Check it out and add your own thoughts in the comments.

Everyone has a way of dealing with stress. I grew up with my father being a county officer and got the ideology that "bad things happen all the time, there isn't much you can do to prevent it." Meaning yes, the job is stressful at times, but it isn't a personal issue. I feel sorry for the people involved with whatever is happening at the time. However, other than doing my job as efficiently as possible, there isn't much room to go above and beyond. 

I personally consider myself able to walk out of work, get in my car and think: "Okay time to start over....Good afternoon me, shall we have dinner?" I do work 12-hour shifts which just becomes draining. Some of my friends have visited and wonder how I can be so tired when a majority of the time you aren't doing a whole lot. But it's the times that the job requires you to be alert and efficient that gets your adrenaline moving. And just like it, it goes away. Having that situation happen over and over again can mentally and physically drain you.

At the end of my day, I go home and want to be left alone until I sleep. The days I have off, I am a normal person of society and a very social person. Keeping your patience is a skill learned through experience on the job. 

You will have difficult callers and situations. It's being able to recognize that you are that person's lifeline and they are relying on you to be patient and calm to get them the help they need. You do end up caring for every caller that you talk to, however that "caring" mentality might not last much past the call. The situations come and go and letting every call get to you will only stress you out. 

A lot of dispatchers develop a humor that the general public would consider offensive. They just might not understand that with a lot of stress you need ways to get rid of it. Over time, I have had hard times finding when I am morally offended because of what I've had to endure at my job.

About the author

"The Question" section brings together user-generated articles from our Facebook page based on questions we pose to our followers, as well as some of the best content we find on Quora, a question-and-answer website created, edited and organized by its community of users who are often experts in their field. The site aggregates questions and answers for a range of topics, including public safety. The questions and answers featured here on EMS1 are posted directly from Quora, and the views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of EMS1.
The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Diana Sprain Diana Sprain Thursday, December 26, 2013 12:53:49 PM Logan has it right. We (dispatchers) are with our field personnel from the moment we put on our headsets until the end of the shift. We may not sound like we care, because it is our job to sound clam and professional on the phones & radios, but we do care about our staff and the public. Why else would we do the job? It's tough helping the public through the worst days in their lives. It's even worse when a bad day involves an officer, firefighter, or ems person going down. Of course, the off shifts are balanced out when the bad guys are caught, with our help. The satisfaction of helping a caller with EMD or keeping a frightened caller calm until the police arrive stays with you. No one shift is ever the same.
Carol Roster Brolliar Carol Roster Brolliar Thursday, December 26, 2013 1:53:46 PM agRee Diana Sprain, as a dispatcher myself I had many calls that required me to be supportive and very calm for the person on the phone. It afterwards, I felt the worry and wondering how everthing worked out!
Aasia Franco Aasia Franco Thursday, December 26, 2013 4:22:44 PM I think they do the best they can never trash ur dispatcher or you will be running back to back calls for 24 hours strait might even get a code3 at refill. I learned the hard way
Rønnïe Grûbb Rønnïe Grûbb Friday, December 27, 2013 9:35:29 AM And your response is the exact reason there is so much tension between the two departments. They know they can trash a crew if they want and cover another who happen to be their favorites, for whatever reason. For this very reason I think the dispatchers should be required to rotate out into the field for a few tours, at least every month, so they don't loose touch with reality.
Amanda Rice Amanda Rice Sunday, December 29, 2013 1:00:08 PM a dispatchers job is one of the most stressful professions out there, there are times where you have to handle multiple calls at one time and I think it can get very mentally grueling but someone has to do it I give you guys MAJOR KUDOS for what you do keep up the great work!!!!

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