Last Updated on March 3, 2020
For a 911 call taker, making headlines is a double-edged sword. There’s the hero who calmly talked a youngster through a burglar’s attack and the goat who lost it on a petrified caller who was too shell-shocked to answer even the simplest of questions. It’s not easy being one of the men and women who answer calls day and night not knowing what crisis the next call may bring.
Not everyone has what it takes to be the first to answer, to set the emergency response in motion. A 911 call taker’s motives must be clear. They must be dedicated to serving the public selflessly. The call taker must be passionate about people and willing to do whatever it takes to diffuse emotional situations and cut through the chaos in order to get help to the scene – fast.
There’s no room for ego when the person on the other end of the phone could be facing a life or death situation. The more a 911 call taker thinks about themselves, the less they’ll be thinking about the citizen in need who’s reaching out for help. The 911 call taker is never the center of attention. That role is occupied by the citizen placing the call.
911 Honor Roll – The Boy from Texas
To better illustrate what makes a successful 911 call taker, let’s examine the elements of a well handled 911 call. This NY Daily News article talks about a young boy who hid in a bedroom closet at the direction of the 911 dispatcher as burglars entered his home.
First, the dispatcher understood she was talking to a young boy and communicated on his level. Second, the dispatcher remained intensely focused, able to hear young Deion although his voice was barely audible as he hid in the master bedroom closet. Third, she praised him liberally once the danger had passed, building up his confidence by letting him know how smart he was and how good of a job he’d done. This call taker’s motives were crystal clear – serve the public good and save lives.
The Ugly Side of 911
Unfortunately, all 911 calls don’t go as well as this one did. In fact, some 911 calls don’t go anywhere. In Charleston, SC, a 911 call taker was arrested for failing to pass on information from calls she’d taken to emergency service dispatchers. Over an almost eight month period, the accused call taker deleted 45 calls she’d taken, with one of them being a medically related call. Luckily, no injuries resulted from the alleged misconduct.
What would lead a public servant to such dereliction of duty? We may never know. One thing we do know is that earning and keeping the public’s trust starts with hiring the right people to take 911 calls. Hiring call takers who are confident, compassionate and focused on the public is essential. These are the folks whose compass always points due north, even when under extreme stress.
Build a Better Call Taker
Training them to do the job effectively in any situation is equally important. The linchpin of call taker training is call logging software that will record multiple incoming and outgoing lines at once, regardless of the call format. Versadial’s call logger for 911 PSAPs is being designed from the ground up. Adhering to the recent NG911 specifications and continually updated as NG911 becomes more evolved. Versadial also offers voice logging of VoIP, analog, and digital PBX with auto archiving and easy retrieval.
Listen to recorded calls alongside your call takers for direct feedback or complete quality assurance reviews for later discussion. Identify which call takers put the public first and immerse themselves in each call and which call takers waver under pressure, becoming frustrated when things don’t go exactly as planned. Easily access call logs to compare with dispatch logs to insure all calls were routed to the proper agency for assistance. With Versadial’s NG911 call logger and powerful software you can build a team of call takers who serve the public courageously every day.
Last Updated on March 3, 2020