911 operator at Logan City Public Safety Dispatch. The staff answered an average of 371 calls a day last year (Will Feelright).
LOGAN — They’re the voice heard during the worst moments of life. Day and night, the staff at Logan City Public Safety Dispatch field some of the most horrific and heartbreaking phone calls from local residents.
Shelley Peterson, 911 Communications Director, said their staff of 21 men and women answered an average of 371 calls a day last year. Of those, an average of 129 calls were emergencies, ranging from traffic accidents to medical incidents.
“We get the call when things are just really chaotic, generally at the worst moments,” said Peterson. “A lot of times, calls don’t end up being as bad as we fear they are and then sometimes they end up being worse.”
The 911 Dispatch Center always has at least three dispatchers working at any given time. It is located in the second-story of the Logan City Police Department. The center is equipped with fireproof protections, and backup generators so dispatchers are always able to answer a call.
Peterson said being on the other end of the line when someone is having an emergency is emotionally taxing. No matter what the call is, they treat it with care and make sure to do everything they can to get people the help they need.
“[The operators] recognize that the way they interact with that person, the way that they do their job, the way they help our responders makes an absolute difference on the outcome of the calls.”
The dispatch center takes calls from everywhere in Cache County. They work with five law enforcement agencies and multiple fire departments throughout the valley.
Peterson said most residents don’t realize what happens when they call 911. The teamwork between the dispatch operators and emergency responders is amazing.
“While you are talking to one [dispatcher], another dispatcher is paging out an ambulance, and another dispatcher is getting the law enforcement on the way, and another person may be calling a tow-truck or the power company if there is a fire. There is just so much that they do together that isn’t even heard from the person that is calling, or the officer on the other end of the radio. The teamwork part is crucial.”
When a caller dials 911, dispatchers are immediately able to see on a map where the resident is and what cell tower their phone is connected to. They are also able to see what law enforcement personnel are nearby and the closest automated external defibrillators.
Even though technology has enhanced their capabilities, Peterson said there is nothing that can replace the faithful dispatchers who are always there when someone has to call 911.
“A lot of times because [the callers] are panicking and they are focused on maybe one thing that is happening, they might miss something that is going on in the background that the dispatcher will pick up; just overhearing sounds and other people, or being able to ask questions to direct the caller to give good information. In my mind, there is absolutely no replacement for a good dispatcher.”
Local dispatch operators were recognized for their service this past week during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. The yearly event recognizes telecommunications personnel in the public safety community for their service and commitment to the profession.