They’re there when you need them during a crisis: 911 dispatchers. This week, we’re thanking the hard-working men and women in telecommunications.
“We’re that front line that’s behind the phone that nobody ever sees,” said Margaret Haugan, PSAP manager.
“911 what’s your emergency?”
911 dispatchers go through months of training before they can answer your emergency call.
Take Senior Dispatcher Lacie Bjertness, for example. She’s been with Minot Central Dispatch for the last seven years.
“I believe I got into the profession to assist the public and help people where needed. Try and make a difference and help my community out,” said Bjertness.
“She puts officers, firefighters, deputies, EMS, everybody comes first. Once she walks through that door, she’s here. And it’s not about her, it’s not about the people in this room. It’s about the people that we serve,” Haugan said.
Bjertness says she’s answered all types of calls, from fire to medical and calls concerning animals.
While there isn’t one in particular that sticks out, there are some that are better than others.
“Sometimes the public just calls and they just want to have conversations with us. So, I guess I would say, just interacting with the public and being able to help them out when needed. Just being a friendly ear and try to help them,” Bjertness said.
Even with the good days, it likely isn’t a job for everyone.
“There’s been some high-priority accidents and stuff. Hit-and-runs involving children and stuff that I’ve dealt with. You basically never know from the moment you answer the phone. You don’t know what you’re going to get you just have to be prepared for it,” said Bjertness said.
“With this job, one: not everyone can do it. I mean, you have to be able to multi-task, you have to have what is known as a ‘split-ear’ and a split-ear isn’t something that everybody has. It’s something you have to develop,” said Haugan.
What is a split-ear?
“A split-ear means I’m sitting here talking with you, but I can tell you exactly what they’re all talking about. And I just heard the radios and I can tell you what he said on that,” said Haugan.
And it’s the little things that keep them coming back.
Call after call. Day after day.
“It’s very rewarding when somebody calls in and they just want to say, ‘Hi’ or ‘Thank you.’ It is. Because we don’t get it very often,” Haugan said.
“Being there in the time of someone else’s crisis. Knowing that you can lend a helping hand and we’re listening to them and hearing them and getting them help,” Bjertness said.
So if you know of a dispatcher, be sure to thank them in honor of National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.
To manage some of the high-stress situations, Bjertness says she meditates and goes on vacations to relax.