To all the men and women who dedicate their lives to serving others by becoming 911 dispatchers, we here at KOVA just want to say thank you for constantly standing by and making sure each and every caller is cared for.

 911 Emergency Dispatchers

 

 

I am a 911 dispatcher.

I am the one who responds when you call out for help.

I am the one who walks with you, hand-in-hand and step-by-step, during the most frightening events in your life.

But you’ll probably never meet me.

I deliver babies. I administer CPR. I shield people from violence. I put out fires. I catch criminals.

I save lives.

And I do it all without ever leaving my station. I am there. For you.

I became a 911 dispatcher to help. Every caller is a member of my community – a mother, a husband, a daughter, a brother, a friend – reaching out to me for help. To me.

So I help them.

I help them because I care. Sure, the days are long, and the calls are stressful. I wouldn’t be human if the constant stream of tragedies didn’t affect me. And they do affect me.

But I still care.

I care so much that I have nightmares about the screams. I care so much that I will never forget the fear, the panic, the pain in people’s voices. I care so much that when I get home, I can’t help but cry over the suffering in the world, and my helplessness to stop it.

Except that I’m not helpless.

I am a 911 dispatcher.

I am strong.

I am the refuge people fly to when they are in danger. I am the fortress holding back the darkness. I am the guardian angel who guides people through catastrophe unseen.

I am a 911 dispatcher.

And I am proud.

I know what it is to hear the last seconds of someone’s life, and be utterly devastated…but still have to pull myself together to help the next caller perform CPR on his unconscious wife.

I know what it is to be exhausted to my core from a long night shift, but somehow, after helping someone deliver a baby and hearing those tiny lungs let out their first cries, feeling completely energized again.

I also know what it is to be ignored by the public, and even to be shouted at, cursed at, and hung up on by callers. I know what it is to watch the evening news anchor passing judgment on the one time that one dispatcher got it wrong…and never mentioning the hundreds, the thousands of times we all got it right. I know what it is to be underpaid, overworked, understaffed, overstressed.

I’ve seen coworkers leave because it was all too much. The stress, the pain, the lack of understanding. I’ve seen the physical symptoms that start manifesting themselves – insomnia, stomach issues, headaches – right alongside the emotional symptoms – irritability, panic attacks, emotional outbursts.

I’ve seen people affected by PTSD from traumatic calls.

I don’t ask to be appreciated in any great way. I just want to do my job, like anyone else. But a little understanding would mean so much.

I am proud. But I am only human.

I want to help.

I want to help you.

I am a 911 dispatcher.

 

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