25 years, 3 weeks, 12 hours. 9-1-1 and done.

Leave a comment


August 2, 2019. After 25 years, 3 weeks, and 12 hours, I’m officially retired. Here’s a look back at some of what I saw.


I may have worked my last night shift

Leave a comment

face-screaming-in-fear I may have worked my last night shift.

After 24 1/2 years, almost all of them on night shift, Monday begins the next rotation, to day shifts. I’m not looking forward to it.

My first three months, way back in the summer of 1994, were on dayshift during my training. Once released (yes, three whole months of training back then), I went to swing shift, 5pm to 3am. I stayed there, with a couple of switches to graveyard (9pm to 7am), until October of 2017, when we began our new 12 hour shifts.  That put me on days, 6 am to 6 pm.  After six months of that mess, my team rotated to nights. Now it’s that time again, and back we go to days.

But why may I have worked my last night shift? Because by the time we rotate back to nights, I hope to be retired!

July or September, depending on a few things. But regardless, I hope to be out of there before we rotate back to nights.

That also means I’ll never work in a new dispatch center. By the time one gets up and running, I’ll be long retired. Sigh.

Oh well.

Road trip!


National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week April 8-14, 2012

Leave a comment

By Chief Thomas Wagoner
Loveland (Colo.) Police Department

Someone once asked me if I thought that answering telephones for a living was a profession. I said, “I thought it was a calling.”

And so is dispatching. I have found in my law enforcement career that dispatchers are the unsung heroes of public safety. They miss the excitement of riding in a speeding car with lights flashing and sirens wailing. They can only hear of the bright orange flames leaping from a burning building. They do not get to see the joy on the face of worried parents as they see their child begin breathing on its own, after it has been given CPR.

Dispatchers sit in darkened rooms looking at computer screens and talking to voices from faces they never see. It’s like reading a lot of books, but only half of each one.

Dispatchers connect the anxious conversations of terrified victims, angry informants, suicidal citizens and grouchy officers. They are the calming influence of all of them-the quiet, competent voices in the night that provide the pillars for the bridges of sanity and safety. They are expected to gather information from highly agitated people who can’t remember where they live, what their name is, or what they just saw. And then, they are to calmly provide all that information to the officers, firefighters, or paramedics without error the first time and every time.


Another night at work

Leave a comment

9-1-1 101

Leave a comment

The 4-1-1 on 9-1-1

9-1-1 is intended to be used for emergencies.  Barking dogs, loud music, and other routine calls should be placed on the seven digit number to your local law enforcement agency.  Find those numbers, and put them in your speed dials and memory slots, and they’ll be available when you want them.

If you need an ambulance, or a fire truck, or see a crime in progress, THAT’s when you dial 9-1-1.  If you’re in doubt, err on the side of caution, and dial 9-1-1.  There is no charge, and you won’t get in trouble if you don’t really have an emergency but called anyway.

Here’s a little known fact about 9-1-1:  it’s not one big room, with everybody’s 9-1-1 line going there.  We can’t stand up and yell “Hey!  Boston!  Line 2!” (thanks, Linda – I love that image!)  Another little known fact:  in all but the biggest cities, the same people who answer the seven digit numbers answer the 9-1-1 lines.  The thing is, 9-1-1 lines have priority.  And they are limited in number.  If you’re calling in on one for something that is NOT an emergency, you are tying up a line that someone else may need.  You’re also tying up an operator who may be delayed answering the next 9-1-1 line for a real emergency.

When you call 9-1-1 about, say, a traffic accident, and it’s taking forever for someone to answer, it’s most likely due to everyone else around you also calling on their phones, and we’re working our way through multiple reports about the same incident.  Don’t hang up and dial again, that just puts you at the end of the line.  The phones are all computers now, and they line up the calls in the order they are received.

When you dial 9-1-1 from your cell phone, here’s the most important thing you need to know:


A Happy Ending

Leave a comment

When calling 9-1-1, many people are having their worst day ever.  Whatever is happening, from a medical problem to finding their home burglarized, it’s now pretty well ingrained in folks to call 9-1-1.  We still get calls where someone has called a friend or relative first, and they call 9-1-1, but generally speaking, we’re first on most lists.  Sometimes it’s difficult to categorize the call as a real emergency, but we’ll do the best we can.  Sometimes a call to 9-1-1 can prevent an emergency.

Tonight we got such a call, and we had a happy ending.  A caller dials up 9-1-1 and tells the operator that earlier that day they had lunch at a small cafe in one of our mountain communities.  The lady left her purse in the restaurant when they left, and did not miss it until late in the evening.  This was a case where a lost purse could have had terrible consequences.  Inside the purse was medication for the family’s young son, a 7 year old cancer victim.  If the purse and it’s medication could not be found, the family would have to immediately leave and return to southern California to acquire the proper treatment for the boy.  They were back at the cafe, but it was now late at night, and the business was closed.  At a loss for what to do, the call to 9-1-1 was placed.  While we will do our best no matter who is involved, when you tell a bunch of dispatchers (or deputies, officers, firemen, or EMTs) that a child is involved we’ll move Heaven and Earth to get the job done.


I Hate It When I Get Squashed!

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: