Devin Clark AKA Captain America second shift dispatcher; reporting for duty.

East Tennessee State University Police Department

When I started my career as a campus dispatcher 8 years ago this year, we had a staff of 7. Now we are down to 6 dispatchers with no part time positions. There are usually 2 per shift and some days there is only one at the helm. For the past few years, we have had a high turnover rate; specifically on graveyard shift. I am the veteran on shift, which means that I have often been on shift by myself until a replacement can be hired and trained. We were working 10 hour shifts for a period and it required an overlap of dispatchers for about a 4 hour period, which made things better for me. I got to know my second shift dispatcher, Devin Clark. With a crew of only 6 people, it is a given that if anything happens that requires a call-in, it does put a considerable strain on our dispatch department. The people who are usually called in is either Devin or I.

At the beginning of this year we went back to 8 hour shifts, which meant no more overlap. Since then we can’t seem to be able to keep a graveyard shift dispatcher. More often than not, things tend to kick off right at shift change when the previous dispatcher is trying to relay information that may impact my shift. Instead of making a quick exit, Devin had, on many occasions, stayed and helped me until call volumes have dropped. As I have said before, the turnover rate for graveyard is very high. When he leaves, I’m sole dispatcher for 8 hours, 5 nights a week.

Recently, I have been having some unresolved health issues requiring several doctor’s appointments in a short period of time. The past few months have been very physically and emotionally stressful for me due to those health issues. It is sometimes difficult to go into work and put on a smile to hide the worry, when I know that there is something wrong in my body. Devin often asks me how I am doing, tells me not to worry and tells me to let him know if I need anything.  It is a blessing to have that ear to bend before shift instead of having to sit and think about it. I feel better about taking those days off for my doctor’s appointments because I know my shift is covered without leaving the whole crew in the lurch. Although my supervisor, Kelly, is wonderful when it comes to alleviating the work strain since my appointments made by doctors are often short notice, I don’t see her until after my shift.

In closing, I don’t think there are any sidekicks at our department. We have Wonder Woman (Kelly) and Super Woman (tina) on first shift, Captain America (Devin) and Captain Underpants (Jamie) on 2nd, and Batgirl (me) on third. I would also like to welcome our new Superhero, Black Widow (Mandi) to the crew (hopefully on thirds soon). We have a very strong-willed department here. Thru COVID and beyond, that thin gold line isn’t as thin as it looks here. This is why I am nominating Devin and our small crew of Superheroes. I am so proud to be a part of this department because it makes us a very close-knit crew. When our department struggles, we don’t hesitate to grab the rope and start pulling.

Thank you for your time in reading this. Happy Dispatcher Week to all departments out there. Keep calm and Dispatch on!