“Mission: Possible”

Manatee County Emergency Communications Center

Picture this:

The scene is set, the lights are dimmed down low in the Emergency Communications Center. Along with a faint hum of the computers, always powered, always doing their job, comes a distinct murmur from the telecommunicators…for they gather and gossip, talk and toil, for they are all telecommunicators, and while each and every one of them has been trained to deal with the most difficult of situations, there’s always time for a bit of scalding tea from the latest rumors, or a mingle or murmur of weekend, vacation, and just family plans. Life is relaxing…until the distinct ring of the phone sets off alerts in each one’s mind. “Is it mine?” they wonder, eyes darting to their computers. One was chosen in that moment, and when the lights of their cubbies flicker from the serene green to a sharp crimson, everyone, in unison, toned down their voices. The air in the room changed…for no longer was it a relaxed hull. Right now, there was business to take care of, and the telecommunicators, trained to the T- stood on it well.

“911, what’s the address of your emergency?”

Who knew a simple question could carry so much weight. A moment ago, the telecommunicator was discussing her son’s play, a young sprout by the age of 8 years who scored the leading role in “The Velveteen Rabbit,” at his school. Yet now, her mind was far removed from that thought. With a sharp inhale of breath, a shift of her body in the seat as she sat to attention, and focused, dimmed eyes, she focused. From the silence broke a low, hoarse voice. In that moment, she knew. It was just the beginning…


This scene is meant to recognize the real-life transitions that our telecommunicators go through in a moment’s notice. From the sheriff’s office next door to the police officers on the other side of the dispatch center, everyone that sits down knows the importance of their job. Everyone instantly detaches themselves from their personal lives to focus on the mission. The mission, of course, is to direct aid to those who need it, to gather the most accurate information for the EMS, fire, and law enforcement officers that are heading to the scene, all while battling time, distractions, and even their own personal feelings. In that instant, every telecommunicator puts another person before themselves in order to extend the first hand of contact. And it’s a tough job. For some, it’s the thrill and the knowledge that they are that “invisible” hand that reaches out to grab for anyone who asks for help. For others, it can be incredibly overwhelming and compassion fatigue sets in quickly. Some days are better than others. But whenever someone asks for help, they’re always there. With telecommunicators and dispatch officers, the mission always starts off with one word: possible.

This movie would start off with the aforementioned scene, and then cut immediately to the same telecommunicator staring outside of a window at her house, absentmindedly, before the young voice of her son, requesting her help with getting into his costume, the Velveteen Rabbit himself, interrupts her clouded mind. Her attention instantly snaps back to him. The movie would transition between her personal life and that of her dispatch life, until the both of them mingle when a caller on the line happens to be her husband’s sister, calling to request EMS services for her husband, who is currently clutching at his arm, with shortness of breath, his tongue is sticking out and he’s currently laying on the ground, a thin cut above his forehead where he fell down. The husband was suffering a heart attack. How does the telecommunicator, trained so well to separate her emotions during her work hours, deal with matters that are…closer to home? The telecommunicators all band together in support, showing that although they all are trained to deal with the misfortunes of the job, they all can relate and rally behind one of their own.

We may have different past lives, different personal lives, different ways of thinking, different religious beliefs, different cultural differences, different ways of communicating, different response times, different emotional responses, and we are different from one another (9 differences if you’re following me), we all are apart of one team (1), and we have one mission (1). Mission possible.

Stay tuned…