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April 25, 2005

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24Seven Cop2Cop: News By, For & About Law Enforcement In the West
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Through my eyes; A day in the life of a dispatcher

by Heather Allen, E-Comm Dispatcher

I unwittingly volunteered myself to write an article about being a dispatcher, thinking it would be a piece of cake. Then I started to analyze the “day in the life” aspect and I realized that it wasn’t going to be an easy task after all. Even though I am a dispatcher for the Vancouver PD, how could I possibly write something on behalf of all dispatchers in all jurisdictions? No one can, so instead I decided to write it through my eyes.

Obviously, being a dispatcher involves wearing many different hats. For example, with the Vancouver PD it may encompass taking on the role of call-taker and/or CD (central dispatcher) throughout your shift. All of these positions play a key part in the safety of the public, our officers and other support staff. No one takes this lightly. We all do our best despite many obstacles such as callers and victims that are hard to deal with, stressful situations, heavy call loads for dispatch, and difficult shifts and conditions to work under.

Through everything, I can truly say that we are the most valuable link between the public and the police members who strive to serve and protect the community. We are the takers and the givers of valuable information. Not everyone from the public is always happy with us, and often we have to deal with verbal abuse. Yet there is always a positive side, and good things do happen on every shift. Whether someone’s lost child is located unharmed or an armed suspect is apprehended. Perhaps a family is in crisis or someone’s home was invaded and the culprits caught.

Every day or night on this job presents new situations and the operators and dispatchers meet each challenge with as much professionalism, compassion and expertise as they can.We are willing to go that extra mile in many cases in order to see an incident through to the end result, even if it doesn’t always end the way we would like. We are affected by the calls we create and dispatch. We care deeply about our performance in any of the roles we take on and are fiercely proud of what we do. We do not pretend to be police officers, but we do need a sixth sense and often have to try and think as one.We are the “front seat” drivers but may have to take a back seat in many cases. It doesn’t matter. The important thing is that at the end of the shift, we can all hopefully go home knowing we have done the best we could to the best of our abilities and come back ready to tackle the next shift with a fresh attitude!

We are human though.We have families and friends and lives outside of the “job”, and all may be affected by what we do for a living. At times we might want to give it all up in a heartbeat but the truth of the matter, through my eyes, is not a chance!

April 8-15th is Emergency Services Dispatchers Week in British Columbia. Thanks dispatchers everywhere for their dedication to emergency services.

About the author

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