Answering the call for help: it’s 911 dispatcher appreciation week

Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 6:46 PM CDT
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ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) - It’s National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week: when the unthinkable happens, 911 dispatchers are always there.

Adams is a 911 dispatcher for Ardmore.

“When people call, it’s not cause they’re having a good day,” Adams said. “It’s cause it’s the worst day of their life. So you have to listen to, you know, everybody screaming and the background noise and try to decipher what’s going on.

She said it’s a labor of love.

“You have to walk out the door knowing you did the best that you can do,” Adams said.

She said training can’t prepare you, and no matter how much experience she has, she never knows what she’ll walk into.

Some days are slower, while others are hectic, like the asphalt explosion last summer.

“I took an initial call from an off duty officer that I knew and he said ‘Hey, you better start getting people this way. I don’t know what’s happening, but it’s happening.’ And about that time when we started toning everybody out to get them there, then we started getting- I think we had 124 calls. At that point, we were so overwhelmed.”

Adams said when someone calls 911, dispatchers are looking for one thing first.

“If you can’t say anything else, say the location,” Adams said. “That way we can at least find somebody, you know an officer to come by and make sure you’re ok. And then they’ll tell us what you need from there.”

They’ll figure out what’s happening, tell the right agency where to go, then keep asking questions. That’s so first responders can be ready.

“You never really know what’s happening on the other side of the phone, but try to give them the best guess that they’re going into,” Adams said.

The best way to appreciate dispatchers is by being patient when answering their questions so they can get you the help you need.

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