At the end of my third week and it’s been a wild one.
First, my trainer told me she was going to have me take a practice test for the the police module on Friday so we could fine-tune any remaining instruction/understanding. The police module test and fire module test are must pass items at my agency. Fail one once is okay, but fail them both or fail one twice and you’re out.
Naturally, this was a little stressful for me, but my trainer had confidence in me and sure enough, I scored 92% on the practice exam. Several of my mistakes were just silly errors on my part (SE instead of SW or typos), but it did help ID a couple of gaps in my knowledge and I’ll work on that during my weekend.
I also got my first paycheck! Huzzah! That was nice to see (really nice to see the pension systems) and felt awesome.
I also sat in on some crazy calls this week. My trainer has me shadowing her, entering her calls into my dummy CAD so I can learn the workflow, work on my narratives, and practice call types and priorities. It’s also useful to develop my “dispatcher ear.” Some things still sound like absolute gibberish, especially the cops who just launch into a volley of words and jargon with nary a breath.
I’m told this will improve. With time.
I experienced quite a few new things this week. Got to hear one of our frequent fliers call in (wow) and recognized her voice when she called back the next day. Heard several “mental/emotional” calls and it grieved me that many such people are left to their own devices. Our agency’s been talking to her for ten years, she’s been committed many times, but she’s still lost.
Also heard my first real crisis call last night, which was the result of violence, and ended up with a car full of screaming teens panicking. I watched my trainer try and try and TRY to get them to listen and obey so we could help them. Eventually, between my trainer and the state police, we got them stopped and the wounded party into an ALS wagon. They made it to the hospital and I saw that a different jurisdiction arrested the guy who hurt him.
I won’t forget their voices or that call anytime soon. Still, nobody died, so it felt like a pretty good day.
I still struggle to memorize the sheer volume of information we need to know and I fear things I’m virtually certain will happen. I had to listen to recordings of angry (enraged, really) callers, a caller under duress, and had to watch videos that showed officers getting killed in the line of duty and none of that was easy. I’ve seen plenty of death in my life and I’m doing this work to try and deflect some of it. I know my job is to help keep everyone safe and I know why they made us watch it.
Dispatch is no game, nor is public safety. We have different procedures today, which is why we now check in on officers after a specific period of time and why we make sure a scene is safe before sending in Fire or EMS.
Serious work. Meaningful. Hopefully impactful.
That’s why I’m here.