By Helen Burkett Prencke
From the time we enter school certain acts are drilled into us—ingrained into our daily routines in such a way we commit them subconsciously. Always wash your hands after you go to the bathroom, Stop-Drop-and-Roll, if you have an emergency dial 9-1-1, the list goes on. Let’s talk about the last one: in an emergency dial 9-1-1. It seems simple really, so simple almost every one has dialed those three digits at some point in our life. The people on the other end of those calls live a life finely balanced between adrenaline rushes and afternoon naps. “If we have a busy day, somebody’s having a bad day!” This was how they summed up their job when I joined the dispatchers early last Tuesday morning. I was eager for calls to ring in. I wanted to hear them calmly talk strangers through chaos and the scream of sirens over the airwaves. That’s not what I got, but by the time I left their cramped office wallpapered with maps and memos I had a new appreciation for a job few can handle. My article cannot encompass everything they do in a single shift, but I will try to paint a picture of what they encounter daily.
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