Behind Closed Doors: The Top Secrets of Dispatchers

DispatchersThe U.S. 911 System gets over half a million calls every single day, and the very first responders are emergency dispatchers. They are responsible for interpreting the situation of a caller into actionable instructions, so medical teams, firemen or police officers can respond as soon as possible. The job of a law enforcement dispatch is quite challenging, especially with shifts lasting to 16 hours, says They spend most of their time attending to frightened callers in their most frantic moments. Here are some facts you should know about the person taking your call:

The Call Hierarchy

This might sound alarming because people who dial 911 want to get their calls taken immediately, but dispatchers reveal that emergency calls don’t get answered in the order they’re received. They say that they prioritize calls that pose an immediate public danger, so calls consisting of things like domestic violence, kids and weapons come first. For instance, if you discover that your house or car was broken into, the police will only come once they’re done with other emergency cases – unless the invader is still there.

The Traumatizing Effect

A study regarding 911 dispatchers reveals that they’re at a huge risk for developing stress disorders because of the high amounts of upsetting calls they take. One of the dispatchers shares that a dying man who got stabbed asked her for help with his last breath. She admits that this call happened seven years ago, but it still bothered her today. Researchers reveal that grief, paranoia and insomnia will still trouble the dispatchers even when they aren’t at work. Another dispatcher says she basically knows the “geography of grief” and can point out which address a woman had suicide and which family found their sound murdered in the bedroom. Dispatchers take in a lot every moment they pick up the phone that it takes a special type of person to endure the stress. They might sound sure and secure on the phone, but they face a million emotions behind closed doors.