911 Operators Cut Through the Chaos

911 Operators Cut Through the Chaos

Last Updated on January 31, 2019

911-dispatch-sparks-middle-school

On Monday October 21st, Sparks (NV) PSAP dispatchers responded to the frantic calls from adults and children who bore witness to the latest tragic school shooting at the Sparks Middle School.

12-year-old student Jose Reyes brought his parent’s handgun to school and proceeded to shoot and kill a popular math teacher and former marine while wounding two students. The teacher, Michael Landsberry, is being hailed as a hero for attempting to talk Reyes down, giving students the seconds they needed to flee the playground area during the shooting.

911 calls came from students and teachers, informing dispatchers of the shooting and asking for help. The shots were fired on the basketball court with one caller saying the shooter was “…following people around, like pretty much-chasing people when he saw them.” Another student told CNN the shooter was saying things to the students he pursued, like ‘ Why are you laughing at me? Why are you doing this to me?'”

Once the first student was hit in the shoulder, Landsberry approached the shooter calmly with his hands raised. He attempted to persuade the shooter to put down the weapon but ended up taking a bullet instead. The shooter then shot a second student, who was attempting to help the teacher, in the abdomen before turning a Ruger 9mm pistol on himself. The students survived but Landsberry left behind his wife and two stepdaughters.

As the first calls came in, 911 dispatchers did what they do best, obtained valuable information to pass along to law enforcement and EMS and assured callers that help was on the way. Dispatchers consistently asked for a description and location of the shooter. They confirmed the shootings of the students and teacher and relayed information to police. Police also checked in with the dispatchers to see what information had been obtained. In just a few minutes, limited information turned into a description of the shooter and confirmation that he was down.

Enough can’t be said about the important role training plays in developing outstanding 911 dispatchers. Through study, repetition, and experience, operators hone their skills, readying themselves for any situation. When supervisors use the full capabilities of their call logging software, dispatchers can review their work to celebrate success and discover areas in need of improvement.

911 dispatchers kept the lines of communication open throughout the Sparks Middle School shooting, leading to a quick resolution. They should be applauded for their fine work.

Last Updated on January 31, 2019