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Dispatchers are a big asset to first responders

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI)- They are the first point of contact when someone needs help from police or fire departments. This week they are being honored and celebrated for their important jobs.

April 14th through April 20th is National Dispatcher Week.

Those who work with dispatchers tell us they play an essential role in emergency response. Not only do they send help, but they can provide life-saving first aid, or comfort and guidance until first responders can get to the location.

I was able to speak with dispatchers in Madison County and Jefferson County who shared what their day-to-day roles are like.

"It's a very good job. Some days are harder than others, but usually for the most part, you go home and you feel great about what you did and saved a life or got somebody help, you know, located a kid, something like that," said Sergeant Erika Blom a dispatcher in Jefferson County said.

"At the end of the day, we take calls from people wanting to report animals or car crashes or very heavy calls that being bigger emergencies and things like that that have a high emotional toll. But it's just one of those things that you understand it's your job," Sergeant Beckley a dispatcher in Madison County said.

The dispatchers added they often start a call but sometimes don't get the closure from seeing the call through that can bring.

"A lot of it ends when we hang up the phone call. So it can be frustrating at times to not get that for closure. But we develop good relationships with our officers and things like that. And so we usually end up following up with them later on and getting that closure if we need it. We also have a lot of resources locally and from our agency. If we do need further help, kind of taking those calls and managing the toll they take afterwards," Sergeant Beckley said.

Sergeant Blom adds that they want to make sure they all go home at the end of the day.

"Think for me the biggest part for me is when all my deputies go home at night. That's what's important, helping others, and getting them what they need. But you know, we are a family here and so making sure that they all get home is what's important," Sergeant Blom said.

I spoke with Corporal Marler a current patrol officer with the Rexburg Police Department. He shares just how vital dispatchers are for them to do their jobs properly.

"So dispatch is extremely important to us as police officers. Without them, we'd be going into a call blind. We'd be, you know, walking into, you know, our domestic violence calls to shoplifting calls, etc., etc., without any information at all. So dispatchers are a lifeline," Corporal Marler said.

He added that dispatchers can be some of the best communicators out there.

"They're extremely good at talking and conversing with people. They're kind of the calm in the storm if you will. So when people call in, they obviously can be they can be emotional, upset, angry, sad, or whatever, whatever it may be. And they're highly trained in keeping the 911 callers calm and kind of stable trying to set the scene for us as officers when we arrive," Coporal Marler said.

He added, "So as far as what the public needs to know about dispatchers, like I said, they're good at communicating. They're extremely smart. They have to know how to talk to everyone, every walk of life that's out there."

Corporal Marler also shared that dispatchers can often help cheer up the officers, and they have such a large amount of trust between the two roles that is critical in their jobs.

I also spoke with Officer Whitney Hansen, a newer patrol officer who also happens to be a former dispatcher.

She shared her unique view on the relationship between the two roles.

"I think the most important thing as far as seeing it from both sides now, from from the dispatcher taking that initial call to now, I'm the one that's responding and arriving on scene is to just reiterate to people that like when dispatchers are asking you questions, it's vital that they answer that you answer those questions for them because they that information to us and it's it gets your help there faster," Officer Hansen said.

Officer Hansen also reminded us that as soon as we gave our address to the dispatcher, help was immediately on its way.

"Dispatch is really good about them always, you know, the first thing that they try and get is that address. And immediately they're sending people, whether it sounds like they are not there, they're still asking questions. They can talk on the phone, talk on the radio type all the same time. It takes a very good multitasker," Officer Hansen said.

Many counties and cities need dispatchers. Several local offices have openings in their departments.

"We have been hiring a lot of people. We just hired probably three or four people in the last six, seven months or so. We kind of do compete here locally with some of our neighboring agencies," Sergeant Beckley said.

Sergeant Blom shared how you might be able to see if becoming a dispatcher is the right fit for you.

"They can always call and come sit in for a little bit. We will have to do some security checks, but they can come and take a look and see if this is something that they would feel comfortable going home with. They would say, you know, sometimes you do take things home with you and you got to, you know, find a way to release the energy," Sergeant Blom said.

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Braydon Wilson

Braydon is a reporter for Local News 8.


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