SPECIAL REPORT: The voice on the other end of the radio
A look inside dispatch with the people handling your emergencies
EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - “There’s always, there’s always something happening. Always,” says Rachael Mueller.
Mueller has worked at Evansville Central Dispatch for four years. From the outside, her job may seem pretty routine: answer phone calls, ask questions, and send help.
But there is so much more to it. If you think about it, dispatchers are the first responders.
“You hear people in their worst moments, and that’s it, and then it’s over, and then you go on to the next one,” says Mueller.
They are left to fill in the blanks and imagine what happens.
“It’s them describing their emergency. It’s kind of like listening to an audio book. Whenever you’re reading and you’re making up these characters in their head, you know what do they look like? ... And you’re hearing it on the phone. That’s the best that we have. We don’t get closure,” says Mueller.
Mueller says they get calls for just about anything.
“There are people who have worked here for 20 years longer than me. They’ve heard and seen and dealt with some crazy situations,” says Mueller.
Some are disturbing.
“Half of our staff here that probably has families and kids and you know whenever we get these calls about my baby’s not breathing or my child’s choking or my child’s drowning, I feel like that’s kind of where it gets harder for the people who have kids,” says Mueller.
Other callers report issues that do not seem serious enough to require police.
“How do we decide whether that person is or isn’t having an emergency? We kind of try to direct people in the right direction if it’s not a police issue. But if someone is asking for an officer, it’s our job to send them,” says Mueller.
Calls like a neighbor’s grass clippings in their yard.
“You don’t know that that situation’s not going to escalate into something more serious. So, where we sit here and say, ‘Oh my gosh. There’s people who are in life and death situations and you’re calling about grass clippings,’” says Mueller.
When dispatchers are asking you question after question, they are gathering details they need to tell responders on scene for their safety.
Mueller says it can sometimes be frustrating as the nature of calls can be serious and high stress.
“All these names on the screen, they are people with families and children and people that love them, so their safety is the top of our priorities,” says Mueller.
She says they truly care about callers.
“At the end of the day, they know that we are there to help them. We are the voice on the other end of the radio,” says Mueller.
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