Finished my first week of training and wow, was it a ride!
I’ve had to absorb an astonishing volume of information. Call signs for every unit in EVERY city we dispatch for, plus all of their jurisdictional boundaries. I had no idea why a fundamental understanding of how roadways are named and ordered was so important until I watched my trainer frown, zoom in on her CAD map, and ask me if we should take the call.
Nope. It was JUST on the other side of the boundary. They’d get better help by transferring to their primary PSAP, but if I hadn’t studied those, I would never have known. Plus, some of those boundaries have ODD little quirks. This straight line just bends around a Taco Bell (literally), putting it in the other jurisdiction before bending back, but fear not—we got the Jack in the Box.
I really have to salute my trainer. She’s been super patient and showed me a lot, but I never imagined I’d come across so many dispatcher cliches in my first week. For example, we had an alarm company call because someone tripped the alarm at a construction site right next to police headquarters. Video shows a guy dressed as a construction worker, hard hat and all.
The police units we dispatch immediately radio in. Are we sure they’re not just construction workers?
Actually, we’re quite sure they were construction workers, but the alarm company is contractually obligated to report it to us and we’re legally obligated to dispatch units to investigate. We’re not doing it for the lulz.
I’ve seen this image on notebooks, mugs, and T-shirts on Amazon. I had no idea I’d hear my trainer (and several other dispatchers in our center) growl those words after politely and professionally responding to those queries. I also heard some of the worst examples of humanity.
“Oh, I don’t have an emergency, but there’s a dead bird.”
“I just saw a black guy looking at two bikes in the park. He’s dressed in a bright jacket, but it seems suspicious.”
“I saw on Facebook that poor people were going to attack our neighborhood because we’re rich. What should we do?”
Thankfully, those weren’t the norm. Most callers really did have a problem and I heard several people call to help others. Hats off to the dude who called in after witnessing an accident and blocked off traffic, checked on the occupants of both vehicles, and gave us precise location information, license plates, and injury lists.
My trainer says I’m doing great for week one. I’m ahead on my material and she likes my enthusiasm. Next week I’ll be able to work in the training CAD environment and can get a little more experience and practice picking call types and priorities.
And, of course, keep practicing geography…