Behind the headset
Learn more about a day in the life of a 9-1-1 Police Dispatcher. Discover why our Police Dispatchers live their passion and love what they do.
- Christina - We're a family
- André - It’s a Calling
- Ginny - In a heartbeat
- Patricia - Going the extra mile
- Ezra - Just like playing a video game
As a child, Christina wanted to be a police officer. Years later, a friend suggested that she would be a good 9-1-1 Police Dispatcher since Christina had a strong work ethic and could easily multitask. Becoming a dispatcher was never on her radar growing up. Christina decided to attend a Career Presentation to learn more about the career and then quickly applied to the 9-1-1 Police Dispatch Program.
She expected that the job would primarily be about helping people. However, once she became a police dispatcher, it opened her eyes to what is really going on behind the scenes.
You see something posted on social media or the news, says Christina.
But you don’t realize how much more there is to the story.
The typical scene in the movies is of someone screaming or crying when they call 9-1-1. It is far different from that. Sometimes you get the highest priority calls coming in on the non-emergency line.
A dispatcher could be on a non-emergency call and talking to someone about their car that has been vandalized. The next 9-1-1 call could be about an intense emergency with multiple people affected. At that point, dispatchers jump into action and dispatch the police to the scene, all the while calmly speaking to the person on the 9-1-1 call, asking them to stay on the call until the police arrive. Simultaneously, the police might call the dispatcher and request that they dispatch multiple police services, such as the Police Service Dogs or the Explosives Disposal Unit to the scene. As they switch back and forth between the caller and the police, dispatchers must remember all of the demands and calls for support.
I thrive in that environment, says Christina.
I absolutely love it when we are really busy. With multiple concurrent calls, dispatching police, listening to the radio.
Christina sets high standards for herself and is diligent to ensure accuracy and that no details are missed.
While Christina is someone who tends not to remember calls at the end of the day, she has had a few that were a bit unusual.
Christina answered a 9-1-1 call from a man who was panicked. She could hear it in his voice. By his tone, she thought someone had been shot. She confirmed his location and then the man told her that there was a deer walking through his cul-de-sac in the suburbs! She asked if he had recently moved to the area. He laughed and asked her how she could tell. She said that they had a great deal of deer in the area and he’d be seeing a lot more of them. They both laughed and she then advised him to call the BC Conservation Officer Service next time.
Here’s another example of how people may sound one way but the situation calls for a different reaction. She received a call from a man who sounded very calm as he explained that someone had broken into his house. The way he described the situation made it sound like it had happened in the past. Christina asked him if he knew who did it. He answered calmly,
Yeah, he’s standing right in front of me and has a rifle pointed at my face.
Christina asked him to give her a description, to which he replied rather disdainfully,
Some EMO kid with dark brown hair parted in the middle. She couldn’t believe that someone would say that if they had a gun pointed to their head. She told him to get out of the house and he ran down the street and watched as the intruder followed him out then stood on his porch, while still pointing the rifle at him as he ran.
Not many calls get to Christina but she remembers one that saddened her. It was a call from a senior woman and Christina could hear in her voice that she was just trembling. She was terrified. Her husband had gone on a rampage throughout the house searching for her. She said that that her husband used to be the sweetest man until dementia changed his personality. This man, whom she loved, had turned into a person who terrorized her. She had gone into a room and, despite being petit, she managed to push some furniture against the door. She didn’t know what to do. She had thought of jumping out the window but was afraid she’d break something. Christina kept talking to her until the police arrived.
It’s the shear variety of calls that makes being a 9-1-1 Police Dispatcher so exhilarating. It’s one of the reasons Christina loves being a dispatcher. The other is the people she works with.
I love the fact that when I go into work, it feels like I’m with my second family, says Christina.
Then I go home to be with my other family.
The shiftwork of four days on and four days off only enhances that familiarity. Each shift is 12 hours long, so they get to know the other dispatchers intimately, especially when the work can be intense. During the night shift, they like to have a little laugh to keep everyone alert.
Christina likes to be physically active, and on her extended days off, she explores the great BC wilderness, backpacking through the mountain peaks or hiking to the many lakes in the area.
The best part of shiftwork is the long stretch of days off, says Christina.
You get an opportunity to treat every weekend like a long weekend. You only have to take four days off to get a 12-day holiday.
And when you come back after four days off, you are looking forward to seeing your work family that you have been away from, says Christina.
Can't get any better than that!
When he was in North Dakota working in the oil and gas sector, becoming a 9-1-1 Police Dispatcher was the furthest thing from André’s mind. But, he did want to get back to Canada, so he started to do a little research on what job opportunities there were back home.
He discovered that BC was looking for 9-1-1 Police Dispatchers. He read the work description on the BC RCMP website and something clicked. He thought that this job would fit his personality perfectly. The work was dynamic and fast paced. That’s what he was looking for.
Previously, André had been in the Coast Guard, an actor, and he even owned a restaurant, so he obviously was accustomed to change and diversity. He applied, trained, and for the past five years, has been a dispatcher at the Island 9-1-1 Dispatch Centre in Courtenay.
This career is the closest thing to a says André.
calling than any other work I have done,
It’s well suited to me.
André also liked the idea of being a vital part of the RCMP family. After all, his father was a Mountie who retired after 30 years. His father was posted in communities across Canada but, as the youngest of four children, his father had settled into his final posting in New Brunswick so André grew up in Fredericton.
Dispatchers definitely know all about change. While there is some repetition in the job, every call is unique.
One minute you can be dealing with a property file, such as a stolen bike or lost wallet, says André.
The next minute you can take a call that is highly emotional, where there is an incident in progress, and all of sudden you are on the edge of your seat and the stress is on. You have to incorporate different aspects of what you’ve learned in your training, and on the job, to achieve the best possible outcome.
André credits being part of a cohesive team of good people that makes the job fun, light, and far more enjoyable.
When a serious situation occurs, once it is over, you need to lighten the mood in the room, says André.
It’s important to have a laugh in between all the very serious things we have to deal with daily.
Today, André is the Shift Supervisor of Team 1 and works two days and two nights, 12 hours each, with four days off. Team 1 works with the same police officers on the watch at the detachments. They match their schedule so they are working with the same group of people all the time.
You get to know the officers; how they work and what they need, says André.
We all work together.
Still, there are many variables and unknowns every day.
We are trained to deal with the unexpected, says André.
They give us all the training and the tools we need to assess and work through any and all situations that might come from a 9-1-1 call or over the radio talking with officers. As a result, over the years, he has honed the skills of being detail-oriented and a multi-tasker.
There is no one personality suited for a career as a 9-1-1 Police Dispatcher. Everyone brings something to the team that can assist others in different ways.
When we train people, we always tell them that there are 100 different ways to make a successful file, says André.
That said, he pointed out that it would be difficult to be a shy person when doing this job. You are dealing with so much confrontation, whether it is on the phone with people when they are stressed out and may be yelling at you, or not hearing you because they are so frantic. You really need to speak up to get your point across.
We are trained to do everything efficiently, quickly, precisely, and to get that information out to where it needs to be in a timely manner, he says.
But with a trainee, you have to do the opposite. You have to work with them when they are learning, understand they will make mistakes, so they can learn how to do it right. It’s inefficient, slow and clumsy in the beginning… and stressful! There are some situations where you have to be stern to get callers to calm down so you can get the information you need for the police officers. It can be overwhelming.
The most important thing to have in this job is self preservation, says André.
Look after yourself first. If you feel like something is getting to you, you have to address it. You can’t ignore it because it is just going to lead you down the wrong path.
For André, exercise is the number one thing he needs. He runs to clear his head. If something is on his mind, he finds that by the end of the run, he has worked out the issue and is done with it so it doesn’t weigh on him when he is on his days off.
André remembers some of the more challenging calls.
It was the middle of the night, and we started getting 9-1-1 calls about a Tsunami. People were getting notices on their smartphones saying: Potential Tsunami coming to the north island as a result of an earthquake off the coast of Alaska. Yet, the 9-1-1 Police Dispatch Centre had not received an emergency message.
We had to call every one of the detachments, wake them up, and tell them to evacuate their towns and to move people to the highest point, away from shore.
However, in the end, it didn’t translate into a major event. There was no major wave of water. However, it was a great training scenario for everyone. In fact, today’s alert systems are far superior.
People can set up the Emergency Broadcast System on their smartphones and get the emergency alert immediately.
There are times when other RCMP units or teams call the 9-1-1 Police Dispatch Centre. He recalls when BC RCMP Air Services were flying home and heard something over the radio about a helicopter crash. They contacted us first to notify us of the accident. They started searching for the helicopter but it was very difficult to find in the densely wooded area. It took a few minutes but eventually they located the crash site. The fire and ambulance services were on scene in minutes.
It’s calls like that when you have to call out multiple specialized units, such as the calling the Emergency Response Team for a weapons complaint, or getting the Police Dog Services involved to track a suspect, says André.
These units demonstrate what services the RCMP have to provide support. That’s when it is the most interesting. Particularly when you have a positive outcome and you know you’ve done the job right. That’s the most satisfying. I enjoy the team atmosphere.
André recognizes that it’s the people he works with that make his job as a dispatcher enjoyable.
When you work with people who are down in the trenches with you doing difficult work, says André.
You are supporting them when they have a difficult call, and you know they will support you.
He likens this bond to a sports team that knows how to work together during challenging times. You become so close knit with these people that they become like family.
If you have a positive work environment, where you can talk through situations, and you can have a good laugh with them, it can be quite fun. The things about this job, adds Andre,
all the stressors and the emotions you have to deal with can elevate you in all other aspects of your life.
This job has taught André to be much more efficient, detail-oriented, and a taskmaster. At home, it has served him very well in managing his three young children and all of their activities. He is able to really listen to them and what is going on in their lives. This job has made him a better person.
We are helping the public and providing a service that you can be proud of, adds André.
And I am very proud of what I do for the RCMP.
In a heartbeat
Ginny always wanted to be in a profession helping people. She had once considered being a nurse, however; she married an RCMP officer and they moved frequently until they settled in Kelowna. She also had two small children who needed her full attention so she took a job at the school district.
Years later, she wanted something a little more challenging,
something to get the cobwebs out, something to stimulate her brain.
Her husband heard that the 9-1-1 Police Dispatch Centre in Kelowna was hiring new recruits. She spent a day at the Centre to see whether it was something she wanted to do. She realized that, at this job, she would be able to fulfil that desire to help people so signed up for the training.
In those days, the training as a call taker was on the job, says Ginny.
You were learning as you were taking that calls from the public under the guidance of a field coach.
Her career as a 9-1-1 Police Dispatcher helped to build her confidence and gave her multiple opportunities and challenges.
In the beginning, I thought I would be just answering phones and that’s all, says Ginny.
But it is far more.
People who call may not necessarily be reporting a crime or have an issue requiring the police. They may be calling to ask for assistance in tracking down someone who could help them solve a problem. 9-1-1 Police Dispatchers have a wealth of knowledge about the communities they serve and can often provide phone numbers for city services, social workers, mental health advocates, local community centres or schools.
I’ve had some pretty amazing opportunities throughout my career, for which I am so incredibly grateful, says Ginny.
When there was a need to standardize 9-1-1 Police Dispatcher competencies profile, the Dispatch Centre management team asked Ginny if she would join the national Ottawa committee that was looking at defining the criteria that would determine if an applicant had the knowledge and skills required to be employed as a dispatcher.
Ginny later became a field coach, supporting new recruits at the start of their careers. In 2003, she was offered the opportunity to be a facilitator for the new training program that was being held at the Pacific Region Training Centre in Chilliwack for the first time. She worked with the training team to develop the curriculum. At that time, the training was for seven weeks. As dispatching requires very different skill sets, the candidate needs to have a solid knowledge of call taking first.
Today, the training program is very comprehensive with a mix of training and working in the field over nine months. The program consists of:
- Three weeks of call taking pre-course
- Three weeks at PRTC
- Twelve weeks of call taking field coaching
- Two weeks of dispatching pre-course
- Two weeks dispatcher training at PRTC
- Twelve weeks field coaching.
- A few years later, Ginny had the chance to be an Acting Supervisor and, in 2007, she was promoted into the supervisor position.
The Southeast District Dispatch Centre in Kelowna encourages career opportunities and they were receptive when Ginny identified that there were gaps in her knowledge now that she was a supervisor. She recommended that they create a Career Growth Program with training in administrative responsibilities, such as, scheduling, assessment writing, and performance management. This would give future new supervisors the tools needed to manage people. It also gave them an opportunity to explore whether being a supervisor was right for them at this point in their career.
In 2014, Ginny became an Acting Team Leader and one year later, was promoted to Team Leader managing three supervisors and 16 call takers and dispatchers.
She is currently acting in the role of Operations Manager responsible for updating the Standard Operation Procedures and Unit Supplements and reviews the complaints or concerns from the public or from police officers.
Recently, the 9-1-1 Police Dispatch Centre Unit Commander introduced the Critical Incident Stress Management Program (CISM). The program trains facilitators to help people reduce the impacts of the normal reactions associated to a critical incident and supports them after a difficult call or situation, such as going to testify in court. Before, dispatchers would attend the same debriefing as the police officers who attended the scene. However, the police experience is after the dispatcher took the call and may or may not be relevant to the dispatcher. It is often the call itself that may be the trigger and the officers don’t hear that.
I find this job so rewarding because we are helping people, says Ginny.
We’re making a difference. We’re their first contact with the police. What we say or do affects what the police officers face when they attend the scene.
There is one call that sticks with me, says Ginny.
It made me want to do this job more that ever.
Early in her career, Ginny took a call from an elderly woman who had left her small rural home to visit family on the coast. Her husband stayed at their house.
Throughout the day, the woman tried calling her husband a number of times and into the evening but there was no answer.
Close to midnight, the woman called 9-1-1, says Ginny.
I reassured her that I would send an officer to their house to check on her husband. Everything turned out to be fine.
When the officer arrived, he found the man safe at home. He had been out for the day and missed his wife’s calls.
The woman was so grateful for the fact that I helped her and that we checked on her husband that she crocheted a little angel for me, says Ginny.
It’s that kind of thank you that I find so rewarding.
Every time we pick up that call from the public or dispatch an officer via the radio, we are assisting someone.
Ginny recalls another call that shows the cooperation between all dispatchers.
In the middle of the night, she took a call from a gas station attendant. An elderly couple appeared to want to fill their car up with gas but they seemed disoriented. Ginny sent a police officer to the gas station to find the couple but they had departed before the officer arrived.
Another 9-1-1 call came in another gas station attendant at a community about 60 km from where the first call came in. Another dispatcher took that call but did sound like it was about the same couple. The attendant thought there was something that was not quite right as the couple didn’t seem to know where they were going.
Apparently, the couple turned around and headed in the direction of their home, but they drove right past it travelling south.
Ginny received another call around 4:00 am from someone who had found the couple parked on the side of the road. I asked the man to stay with them until the officer arrived. The officer located them and helped them get home safely. Sadly, the confused couple thought they had to go somewhere but didn’t know where. They had been driving for hours before being located and escorted home.
It speaks to how much we work as a team, says Ginny.
I overheard the other dispatcher taking the second call and we discussed it, pieced it together, concluding it was the same couple.
Even though each day can be somewhat challenging, since you never know what’s going to happen, Ginny still enjoys her job 21 years later.
Ginny explains what it takes to be successful.
To be good at this job, says Ginny,
you need to be caring and empathetic. With everything I do, I try to be respectful as I possibly can with the public, as well as our police officers.
In a heart beat, says Ginny.
I would recommend this job to others. It’s a great organization. We look after our peers. We care about our work family.
Ginny says the people in the Southeast District Dispatch Centre work as a team. If someone took a difficult call, the team discuss it and help the dispatcher process it.
When a caller dials 9-1-1, we are the first voice that they hear, says Ginny.
We set the tone. We represent the RCMP. We represent all 9-1-1 Police Dispatchers, and the Southeast District Dispatch Centre.
Going the extra mile
It’s something that’s intrinsic to all 9-1-1 Police Dispatchers – the fundamental desire to help people. But it is more than just the desire to assist someone. A dispatcher routinely steps far beyond providing aid. It’s about ensuring someone is safe and protected and doing whatever it takes to find them the help they need to make the situation better.
Dispatchers must have a vast roster of resources: people and organizations in the community that they can call for support. They know the schools, taxi and tow truck companies, emergency and medial services, and often know their staff by name.
One such 9-1-1 Police Dispatcher is Patricia who works at the 9-1-1 Police Dispatch Centre in Prince George.
I received a call from a mother who had very ill child who needed immediate emergency medical attention, says Patricia,
I remember it was in the middle of winter in a bitterly cold ice storm and the highway was closed.
The woman lived in a rural and remote area and needed to get to the large city hospital. With whiteout conditions and the closure of the highway, she took the back roads but ended up getting stuck in a ditch. She called 9-1-1 for assistance. There were no tow trucks were venturing out until the storm subsided but Patricia wondered if there was a highway maintenance truck in the area sanding the roads. She contacted the maintenance company and asked if their truck could go to the area and help get the woman’s car moving again. The company agreed and the truck pulled the vehicle out of the ditch, then drove in front of her car, sanding the roadway until she was safely on her way to the hospital. Patricia stayed on the line with the mother the entire time.
Two days later, there were flowers on my desk from the mother, said Patricia.
I didn’t expect that. I was just doing my job. But it made me realize how impactful it was for me to think outside the box to help her to get her child to the hospital safely.
It’s this sense of duty—of going the extra mile—that sets dispatchers apart.
The North District 9-1-1 Police Dispatch Centre serves all regions of northern BC and the dispatcher must have knowledge of the local geography and the communities they serve.
It is a dispatcher’s job to get as much information as possible, which can be difficult if the caller is frantic.
A quick way to calm the caller down if they are panicking is to give them a small task to do to focus on something else which can de-escalate the stress level.
Once again in a nasty snowstorm, Patricia took a call in the middle of the night from a young girl who was about 18, the same age as Patricia’s daughter at the time. She had driven from Fort St. John to Dawson Creek for a party and was on her way home.
The young girl had taken unfamiliar back roads and her car got stuck in the snow. She didn’t know what road she was on. Having come from a party, she was not dressed for the weather, wearing a light jacket, skirt and ankle boots. She was walking down the road crying.
The cell service in the area was poor and when the call dropped, Patricia was able to ping her cellphone to get a general location. By the time Patricia was able to reach her cell again, she had walked along the road and spotted a farmhouse. She knocked on the door but no one answered. There was no address on the rural property.
I asked her if she saw a vehicle parked in front of the house, said Patricia.
She did so I asked her to tell me the licence plate number.
Patricia tracked down the name and address and phone number of the registered owner.
I phoned the residence, woke up the homeowner, and explained the circumstances, says Patricia.
The woman went outside to look for the young girl who, by that time, had gone into the barn to keep warm. The woman brought her into her home to keep her warm and safe.
That’s what I am proud of, recalls Patricia.
I knew that the cell coverage was spotty and I really had to leverage what little information I could use to find the farmhouse. The licence plate number was the breakthrough I needed to locate her.
Having the homeowner graciously bring her into her home until her mom could come to take her home, was a blessing.
I just kept thinking that if it was my daughter, what would I want someone to do to help her, said Patricia.
That’s how I have conducted my career, Patricia adds.
To provide that high quality of service, I think to myself, ‘What if it was my family member in trouble? What would I want the 9-1-1 police dispatcher do to help them?’
However, not all callers are gracious or grateful. Some really difficult callers can be rude, belligerent or intoxicated.
I’ve had to put myself in to someone else’s shoes and recognize that they are someone’s child, dad, sister, uncle, grandmother, says Patricia.
I try to recognize that they are going through a really tough time. When someone calls 9-1-1, we are here to assist them, not judge them.
There are times when something doesn’t turn out as they would like it to.
We can’t fix the problem, she adds.
We can only assist as much as we can and know we have done everything we could in our power to assist. That puts everything into perspective.
In her 17-year-career, Patricia has held a number of positions. Three years after she became a dispatcher, Patricia became a field coach to assist new dispatchers to learn and develop their skills. It takes about one year to become a dispatcher so she got to know the new people very well. Then she became a shift supervisor, assisting dispatchers during high priority situations and managing the team.
Along the way, I had some great opportunities, says Patricia.
I worked at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the 2015 Canada Winter Games when they came to Prince George.
She was also the Emergency Response Team dispatcher, colloquially known as
ERT Comms. ERT receives all the most difficult calls. She would be deployed with these elite, highly trained members would be in the Command Post on scene with the Critical Incident Commander and the negotiators. She was also the scribe, recording what transpired, compiling the information from all sources. She provided the critical link between the officers on scene and the Commander.
It was a privilege to work with this team of dedicated professionals, Patricia recalls.
She has come full circle now in the role recruiter giving the Career Presentation to prospective dispatchers sharing her love of the career.
9-1-1 Police Dispatchers come from all walks of life. They are a varied group of individuals, all with a common goal and purpose. Helping people.
Because we are all different, we bring something unique to the table, Patricia adds.
We work as a team to ensure that everything that can be done, will be done to help the caller.
Just like playing a video game
Ezra has been a 9-1-1 Police Dispatcher for less than three years but his passion for the work spills out as he recalls some of the calls he has taken.
One of the first calls he took as a Police Dispatcher was only five seconds long. Someone was being stabbed. He snapped into action to send police to the scene.
I love being part of something that is so real – so tangible, says Ezra.
You know you are doing something that matters.
The fast-paced environment of a 9-1-1 Police Dispatch Centre suits Ezra. He likes the ever-changing stream of work. For two and half years, Ezra dispatched at the North Island 9-1-1 Police Dispatch Centre in Courtenay. He started right after studying Criminology at SFU. Earlier, when he was in high school, Ezra attended the RCMP Bootcamp and he got the policing bug. But a friend’s dad, who happened to be an RCMP officer, told him about the exciting and diverse world of police dispatching. Ezra also likes the fact that the job has mobility built right in. He recently transferred to the BC RCMP Headquarters Dispatch Centre in Surrey.
9-1-1 police dispatching requires someone who is skilled in multitasking. Ezra describes what is required when he deploys the Police Dog Service to a scene where a suspect is on the run.
The RCMP police officer will ask the dispatcher to set up a containment for tracking, says Ezra.
We have to bring up the area on our maps, then cross-reference with street-view maps to see what is in and around the area.
The dispatcher places the police officers in different containment points surrounding the suspect. The dispatcher tracks the dog handler’s movements and informs the officers in which direction the dog is moving. The officers move in formation as the dog moves.
It’s called a moving containment, Ezra explains.
You have to be fast and accurate. It’s exhilarating. I don’t think people realize how involved dispatchers are in an active incident. We are constantly problem solving.
The dispatcher is truly police officers’ life line.
To excel as a police dispatcher, you need to foresee what the police officer will need before they ask and have it already done. Dispatchers will ping cellphones, run queries on police databases, look for the recent history of the suspect. The dispatcher makes sure the officers have all the information they need to at the scene.
We help the police connect the dots, says Ezra.
The officer is dealing with the people at the scene and can’t do the research on the suspect or the area. They rely on us to do that.
In addition to working with the police, dispatchers have to also think who else needs to be informed. When two children wandered away from their home, Ezra researched who their family and friends were for the officers. Then he contacted taxis, schools, BC Ferries, the airport, ambulance, and tow trucks, describing what the children looked like and asking them to be on the look out for the pair.
Multitasking is only part of it. As a dispatcher, you have at minimum three sources of input coming to you all at once. You could be taking a call from the public, calling for the ambulance, all while the officer is talking to you on the secure radio channel.
You learn to have a split ear so you know what is happening in the Dispatch Centre, what the officer is saying on the radio, and what the caller is saying on the phone, says Ezra.
In addition to listening to several channels, dispatchers must monitor multiple screens showing who are on shift, where the officers are located, the maps of the region, search databases, and the public calls to 9-1-1.
We know that 9-1-1 police dispatchers play a critical role in helping those often calling in their darkest hours. Ezra recalls some of the highly impactful calls that left quite an impression on him.
The most frightening thing for a dispatcher to hear is a 10-33 call over the radio, says Ezra.
Because one of our greatest roles is to ensure officer safety.
A 10-33 call alerts dispatchers and police that an officer needs help—immediately.
When an officer presses that button on their radio, an alarm goes off at all the desks in the 9-1-1 Police Dispatch Centre and every officer in the area hears the alarm.
In this incident, the traffic officer said,
I’ve been hit.
My heart stopped for a second, says Ezra.
I could feel my adrenaline kick in. I had to take a second and take a few deep breathes so I could hear everything the officer said. I also slowed my voice down so he could hear me clearly.
He confirmed who the officer was and his location then told the officer,
Help is on the way. We are sending every officer we have in the area. I’ve called fire and ambulance. They’re on their way, too.
The first responders arrived quickly and helped the officer whose vehicle had been rear ended at a high rate of speed. He was safe.
Nothing could be more confusing than to have a shooter in a crowded mall but when Ezra got the call reporting that there was man planning to shoot someone, he jumped into action.
The mall was packed and the possibility of injuring others was very high, says Ezra.
Mall security was trying to help but they didn’t know where the shooter was.
Multiple police officers and dog teams arrived and the mall was put in locked down or
hold and secure.
Ezra called the Fire Service and BC Ambulance Service and contacted the local bus service as the mall also served a major commuter hub. He then set up a moving containment with the police including a police dog and its handler.
The police teams followed the shooter out of mall and located him with an replica firearm and arrested him.
Unfortunately, not all calls end positively. Ezra had difficult call from a local residence who said his wife was choking.
I transferred the call to the ambulance service, but I stayed on the line, as I knew where they lived was fairly remote and it would take a long time for the ambulance to arrive, remembers Ezra.
The emergency medical services dispatcher instructed the husband what to do, but regrettably, his wife died before paramedics could reach her.Dispatchers have to figure out what would bring them comfort after these types of calls. And there is no harm in asking for help. Dispatchers support one another like family.
In addition to being physically active playing volleyball and bouldering, Ezra is a couple’s photographer.
I take engagement photos and portraits,
It’s a way to meet people before they get married.
He likes to photograph the couple outside in the natural light where he can be more creative and artistic.
Rather than talking to people on their worst day, says Ezra,
I am photographing people on the best day.
When he first started, he asked a supervisor what dispatching was really like and he said it was just like a video game.
As a 9-1-1 police dispatcher, says Ezra.
you are responsible for maintaining officers’ status timers, running queries, calling external agencies for multiple officers on multiple radio channels, all while dispatching the officers’ calls for service. We also are taking both emergency and non-emergency calls.
As in a video game, there are multiple moving pieces, each with inherent challenges that must be conquered. Dispatchers can boost their self-esteem as they learn to master it all.
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