Posted in Dispatcher Life

New Career Goal

I learned about something from my trainer last night that shot through me like a bolt of electricity.

One of the things I knew I’d be trained on when I became a dispatcher was guiding someone through CPR over the phone, both for adults and infants. My trainer and I were just talking about medic calls when I mentioned that a firefighter friend of mine had said she’d never seen CPR save a patient and my trainer looked shocked. When I asked why, she assured me that it definitely could save patients and she had the coins to prove it.


DC Fire & EMS’s CPR Save Coin
DC Fire & EMS’s CPR Save Coin

Yup. My trainer has three such coins, awarded only when a cardiac patient leaves the hospital to return to a normal, productive life. She laughed and mentioned she didn’t even have the most at our agency.

I want one.

Not for the reasons you might think, though. It’s a lot less about ego and more about validation. Being a 911 dispatcher is a great job in many ways, but it won’t make me rich. In fact, at my agency’s peak salary for telecommunicators, I’d still be making less than I earned in my video game industry job—but that’s not why I wanted a career in public safety.

I want to help people. I can think of no greater validation for that decision than to know that I helped save a life. I’m a long way from that point, however. It will be weeks before I attend my Criteria Based Dispatch training and still more weeks before I’m released to the phones on my own. Doesn’t matter, though. To earn just one such coin in my career would be a tremendous honor.


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