Winchester celebrates dispatchers during national public safety telecommunicators week. When someone dials 911, the dispatcher on the other end of the line is the first one to respond.
“Very recently, one of my partners that I was working with at the time, answered a phone call and within a matter of minutes she was delivering a baby over the phone,” said Winchester’s lead emergency communications specialist Mike Sale.
While dispatchers say the job can be rewarding, it also comes with a unique stress.
“We’ll be on the phone with someone who just lost their mom and we don’t know what happened, or someone who just lost their child or a really bad car accident and we don’t know if that person made it,” said Winchester emergency communications specialist Andrea Turner.
The Timbrook Public Safety Center offers resources so dispatchers don’t have to handle these experiences alone.
“For major incidents, especially some of the ones that we have unfortunately had recently, there have been specialists brought in from other agencies such as Fairfax. It’s a time for us to kind of debrief,” said Sale.
While some say it’s a thankless job, dispatchers say they have the power to make a real difference.
“It’s important though that you deal with the stress or it adds up. So if you’re in this job, it’s very important for your mental health to do something outside of the job and not just live, breathe this job,” said Turner.
Winchester has been celebrating their dispatchers all week by awarding the best dispatcher of the year and hosting a dinner for dispatchers and their families.