Keep Going

Melissa Murray, Dispatch Manager / TAC / Training Coordinator, Jefferson Co. E-911

My name is Melissa and I am proud to say that I have served in Public Safety for 22 years. Some good times and some very hard times. Comparing the present to the past there have been so many changes and yes we know how some feel about changes. UGG! For the most part they have all been very good changes, to help us to better ourselves to making sure we can help those in need and help our men and women in the field.

I want to now help highlight some of the tragedies we face as a Telecommicator (Dispatcher). This is a story from many years ago and one that will haunt me the day I die. Myself and a co-worker were working in our comm center on a Sunday morning not to much going on at the time, until that one phone call. I had a man call 911 frantic he and his wife could not find their two grandsons. The children were very young 2/3 years of age, both still in diapers. He proceeded to tell me that the children lived just down the field from them and while their mother and father were asleep the children had some how gotten the side door unlocked. They had been looking everywhere but no sign. Hearing the desperation in his voice and that gut feeling something was really wrong, I started paging everyone to have them en-route to help search for this two little boys. Suddenly something told me to ask is there any water in the area and then I heard the words I did not want to hear, YES. My heart sank and I told the grandfather whomever can swim, to jump in and check the pond and make sure they are safe themselves. So at that time the grandfather handed the phone to the grandmother and he jumped into the pond. It seemed like a lifetime, but in just a few minutes I heard the grandmother scream, the grandfather pulled one of the little boys out of the pond.

The first deputy arrives on the scene and I hear things hitting the ground, it was his duty belt and everything he needed to remove before he jumped into this pond. Then I hear it again, the other little boy was pulled from the pond. CPR is being performed on both angels and the grandmother is hysterical. The boys were transported, emergency, but as I later found out they had both passed away.

At the time no one ever thought about 911 and what we go through, so while all those on the scene were invited and encouraged to attend debriefing, myself and my co-worker were left at the 911 center to just deal with it.

We have always been left out and left behind. Why would they think anything about 911, we are the outsiders (insiders, behind closed doors) and “don’t do anything but answer the phones”.

This story is only one of many that will stay with me, forever.

Years……later I was promoted and moved into the office and there I found out more and more about National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, something I not really heard a lot about. Changes, I was going to make some changes, with the Director’s permission. I was going to do all I could to make sure that our Dispatchers knew how much they meant to us and how grateful we truly were to have them.

I started asking everyone for donations to help us thank our employees, the respond was outrageous. I was able to make vacation packages, with hotel stay, dinner, shows, from all over. I was able to get gift certificates, plants, flowers, cakes, you name it I got it. I have never seen our employees so grateful that someone finally recognized them for a great job.

If you ask many in the Public Safety field, they would not and could not do our job. So when are we any different from them. We are truly the true first responders. We are a team. We work together. We have each others backs. We are all family.