LOGAN — You may never see them but they’re the ones who are always there to answer the phone, 24-hours a day, seven-days a week. They often speak to people at the worst imaginable times, and through it all stay calm. Local 911 Dispatch Operators have been recognized for their service the past several days during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.
Shelley Peterson is the Communications Director for the Logan call center that handles all 911 calls for Cache County. Her staff of 24 dispatchers answer around 385 calls a day. Of those, an average of 122 calls are emergencies, from traffic accidents to shootings.
Peterson started working as a dispatch operator in 1994. She said besides doing all the work to call-out police, fire or paramedics, sometimes there is also a caller on the other side of the phone who needs to be told, it is going to be okay.
“Sometimes even just to be someone that tells somebody, ‘I’m sorry this is happening, I’m going to stay on the phone with you until somebody gets to you,’” said Peterson.
Dispatch operators are trained to talk people through performing CPR, First-Aid and even giving birth.
Peterson said even though the training course is 16-weeks, it usually takes almost a year before a dispatch operator feels like they can handle any call.
“It takes a while before you have your first CPR, you have your first suicide and your first high-speed chase. Some of them you never feel good about. I mean there are some things that it doesn’t matter how long you have been here, they are terrible, they are bad calls and it rips your heart out.”
The 911 Dispatch Center 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. The center always has at least three dispatchers working at any given time.
Peterson hopes the community knows that no matter what the call is, they treat it as an emergency and will do everything they can to get people the help they need.
“We don’t take it lightly, we really try to get people help quickly. We do the same that we hope somebody did for us if we were in need.”
National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week is held every year during the second week of April. It was designed to recognize telecommunications personnel in the public safety community for their service and commitment to the profession.
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