Tonight’s Police Academy was filled with more classroom presentations and lectures. Normally, three hours of anyone jabbering at me with a PowerPoint presentation and laser pointer would send me into a coma; however, tonight’s class had some really interesting lecturers.
911: WHAT IS YOUR EMERGENCY?
First up, we heard from the head of dispatch, Dawn (I can’t remember her last name), who gave us a behind-the-scenes glimpse of 911 Emergency Service dispatchers. The whole entire time she was talking I thought of my friend Kat in Michigan who is a 911 dispatcher (and is also married to a cop—cause she likes to lead a low stress ho-hum life.) I have a whole new respect for what Kat does. Here are a couple of things that I learned:
a) It’s requires the ability to multitask like an octopus under extremely stressful, high-pressure, sometimes life and death, conditions. (This would explain why the vast majority of dispatchers are women. No offense guys, but you KNOW most men are unitaskers at best.)
b) Training is extensive and rigorous and has a more than 50% dropout rate. They also go through a very similar pre-hiring process as standard law enforcement officers, which includes all the extensive background checks, lie detectors, medical testing, etc. (Last week, one of the instructors said that most people don’t pass the background check and that 70% get cut at the lie detector phase. Interesting, eh?)
c) In the city of Fairfield, the 911 dispatchers are Emergency Medical Dispatcher certified, which means they can handle medical situations over the phone. Not all dispatchers or cities require this training and thusly end up transferring medical calls to another number. (I didn’t realize this; I thought they all provided medical assistance.)
d) Fairfield dispatchers answer about 16,000 calls a month, or on average, 500 calls a day.
e) 70% of all calls are NOT emergency service calls. ARGH!
f) Morons abound and must be shot on the spot. Dawn played the above Jay Leno clip for us … and sadly confirmed that these type of calls are not uncommon. Freakin’ hilarious, but frightening.