SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) When we need emergency help – 911 dispatchers are the one we so often rely on. In our Behind the Badge report – and as part of National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week – we take you inside the Salt Lake County – Unified Police Dispatch Center.
Dispatcher Lindsey Rice takes dozens of phone calls everyday. And she says being there for people in need – is rewarding. “I love being able to help people. ” “It could be this person’s worse day and knowing that I am doing absolutely everything in my power that I can to get this person on the phone with me help – its comforting to me.”
The 35-year-old has been answering emergency calls at the Salt Lake County Unified Police Dispatch Center for seven years. “Definitely an emotional roller coaster.” She came here because she liked the idea of the excitement mixed with service. “We get the phone calls that drop in our ear. And if we have a phone call we have radio traffic that comes out of the radio for our other ear.” “One minute we can be joking to a co-worker – and eating a cookie and the next minute we have someone in our ear who is screaming and being attacked or something.”
Lindsey and her co-workers. handle about 900 calls per day. And so far, this year they have taken more than 124-thousand calls. Those are numbers that also prompts a reminder from Lindsey to would-be callers. “911 for for life and death emergencies.” She goes on to say – a barking dog call is not an emergency. “To have an emergency line tied up and you can’t give someone CPR instructions to somebody because there is a dog barking – is not the same level of emergency.”
Lindsey says even though they don’t go to the scene of emergencies she considers dispatchers first responders. “We are the unseen faces on the end of the line. We really are the first true responders. We are the first people they talk to before they get medical approved help.” Lindsey admits, at times, the calls can be overwhelming. “I’m pretty emotional. So, on my drive home I am able to think about what bothered me during the day – I do shed some tears on my way home. So, that gets it out of my system.” But she says – the opportunity to ‘be there’ – brings her back. “I love being able to help people.”
In addition to handling our calls, Lindsey Rice is also on the Unified Police SWAT negotiations team. .
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