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Tired Of People Underestimating The Importance Of Her Job, Dispatcher Explains How Vital It Is In A Viral Post (Interview With Professional)
To us, emergencies are a rare occurrence. But dispatchers deal with emergency after emergency. Every. Single. Day. For. Years.
Tired Of People Underestimating The Importance Of Her Job, Dispatcher Explains How Vital It Is In A Viral Post (Interview With Professional)
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When we have an emergency on our hands, when our lives or the lives of our friends and family are in danger, we’ve been drilled to call 911 (or another emergency number if you’re living outside the United States). These situations are devastating for us and our loved ones, but how many of us have considered the emotional weight that falls on the shoulders of those who are the very first to respond to our calls?

To us, emergencies are a rare occurrence. But dispatchers deal with emergency after emergency. Every. Single. Day. For. Years. Lynette McManus Jeter, a dispatcher from Henrico County in Virginia, wrote an honest essay about the emotional pitfalls of her profession and how it affects her life.

Bored Panda spoke to Communications Officer Lynette about her job as a dispatcher and what inspires people to follow this path.

“I believe there are several different reasons why a person may be inspired to become a dispatcher. Some people were searching for a career helping others, some find it interesting and wanted to just give it a try and others may basically just be looking for a job.”

“The greatest challenges would be that the job can be very demanding,” Lynette explained. “Long hours, stress, as well as working weekends and holidays. The reward is knowing that you were able to get someone the help that they need.” Scroll down for the full interview.

According to Lynette, everyone has their own way of dealing with the emotional toll of the job. “I can speak from personal experience that having a life outside of my job has helped me. Being able to spend time with my family and friends and do things that I really enjoy, like traveling.”

“The qualities to be a good dispatcher is someone who can show empathy, a good listener, someone who pays attention to detail, and someone who can make quick decisions.”

Bored Panda was also curious to learn what we could all do to support dispatchers. Here’s what Lynette had to say: “Just to understand that every question we ask is for a reason, and the quicker the caller is able to answer the question the faster it is for us to get help on the way.”

“I would just like everyone to realize dispatchers are the true first responders. Even though we are not seen, we are the first point of contact during an emergency.”

Lynette’s powerful letter has gone viral online, getting over 29,000 likes, over 31,000 shares, and more than 7,200 comments. Some people expressed their support of Lynette, while others said that from now on they would see each and every dispatcher in a different light.

The 39-year-old told the media in Richmond that she’s “very surprised” that her Facebook post went viral “I definitely wasn’t expecting this at all. I’ve received so many messages from other dispatchers thanking me for telling their truth."

Lynette, who has been working as a dispatcher for 15 years, wants other people to see the work that dispatchers do not as ‘clerical work.’ She wants them to be seen as first responders.

The fact is, stressful jobs don’t stop affecting you the moment that you leave the workplace. Some of that stress (in some cases, all of it) follows you home.

Police One writes that emergency dispatchers can suffer from compassion fatigue, also known as vicarious trauma, from listening to other people’s traumas every day at work, for years.

While at work, dispatchers are constantly responding to stressful situations, can overhear things that will haunt them for a very long time, and lead to feelings of helplessness, horror, and fear. So if you know a dispatcher in real life, go give them a hug and plenty of support.

Comments (21)
I’m Foxxy and I know it ?
Thank you for the amazing work you do. There is absolutely no way I could do your job.
Sebastian George
I know the feeling, had the same job for 6 years and my mother worked as a dispatcher for 20 years until she retired.
Rob Lucchetti
You know, psychological professionals have mandatory coinciding because of the amount of trauma they endure in their jobs. I think that 911 operators should have the same. No sane, well functioning person could possible endure all they have to here on a daily basis and not have it bleed into their lives. They need support - they should have it.
Krazy Kanuck
When I was in my 20's living in Kamloops BC, I had my St. Johns and my OFA level 1 & 2. My landlord John, his wife came and banged on my door just as I was about to leave for work on morning. John had collapsed after he went to the washroom. I grabbed my kit, and ran into their apt. John was lying on his face, where he fell. Jackie had called 911, but there was a HUGE accident on the highway at the other side of town, and the Dispatcher was my only friend at that moment. My training kicked in, but I was questioning what I was doing, and the dispatcher could hear it in my voice. I told her I had never done this on a real person, and only had my 1 & 2 less than a month. The Dispatcher walked me through all the steps to keep John alive as long as I could. 45 mins it took for the paramedics to arrive, and John passed away 3 days later from cardiac arrest and liver failure (he was a heavy drinker). .... I did what I could, all thanks to a 911 Dispatcher..
Uncommon Boston
A dispatcher helped me contact my adult son. He was in a precarious situation, it was a mess. This wonderful woman worked with me all day. The police were kind and understanding, too. Apparently these are called "welfare checks" and normal. They assured me they didn't consider this a waste of time. I cried the entire day, these people, hundreds of miles away, comforted me. My son was so angry, but it was what kick started his healing process. Thanks!
Kate Kyffin
She is far more than 'Just' a dispatcher. She is the angel that is the voice and link to the emergency services, a front liner. She should be honoured by the rest of us for what she does, and I for one am thankful for people like her. I couldn't do it - could you?
Andrew Yarke
These people gotta be paid big money for what they do, these people are heroes.
Lilli
thank you so much. you are someone who saves people's lives, and let's be honest that's incredible. not all superheroes wear capes. :3
Jenica Thomas
My wife is a 911 dispatcher. She has been there for people in their worst days. She has listened to a woman burn to death. She listened intently, spoke soothingly & sent love to this woman in her final moments knowing there was absolutely nothing more she could do for her. She kept it together until the line went silent. She has listened to a mother scream frantically after her toddler drowned. Walked this mother through CPR on a child she knew would not make it & then attended this child's funeral. She has talked people out of hurting themselves or other people. She has answered calls from people she knows & cares about, kept strong & got them the help they needed. She has answered call after call from a man who had dementia & thought there were kids stealing chicken from his freezer. She treated him with kindness & respect even though his calls weren't an emergency because, to him, it was. She is the strongest person I know & I am immensely proud of her every moment of every day.
Grumble O'Pug
Thank you. They are so underrated.
Spinaap
I know a few dispatchers here and I have the utmost respect for them and their jobs. When they talk (job or other ordeals) I gladly take my time to let them do the talking, they earn it to unload to friends, which often is even to much for their familiy to bear. Be there for them, they need it. We all know we need them at the worst times and they need to be at their best at those times.
Céline Chavrier
I have one thing to say about this... it's not "hard" as what Lynette talks about but a few years ago I had a very, very bad injury to my foot, I was bleeding tons and I called the firemen. I will always be thankful the the fireman who answered my call and gently offered me to stay on phone while they were arriving, seeing how I had my blood pouring out. I wanted to gently refuse because he had other calls and people to take care of and but he insisted and honnestly I'm thankful to this day because when you're alone and something like this happens, reactions like this help you to "keep your cool", "breathe and wait". Sadlt nowadays the annoying, rude people are very loud but there will always be people like Lynette and that fireman, with a real heart, full of love and compassion, and I think God (yeah sorry I'm a believer) for people like that. They just brighten everything. They remind me of True Detective season 1 finale dialogue : " if you ask me the light's winning". Thank you <3
Céline Chavrier
I have one thing to say about this... it's not "hard" as what Lynette talks about but a few years ago I had a very, very bad injury to my foot, I was bleeding tons and I called the firemen. I will always be thankfull the the fireman who answered my call and gently offered me to stay on phone while they were arriving, seeing how I had my blood pouring out. I wanted to gently refuse because he had other calls and people to take care of and but he insisted and honnestly I'm thankful to this day because when you're alone and something like this happens, reactions like this help you to "keep your cool", "breathe and wait". Sadlt nowadays the annoying, rude people are very loud but there will always be people like Lynette and that fireman, with a real heart, full of love and compassion, and I think God (yeah sorry I'm a believer) for people like that. They just brighten everything. They remind me of True Detective season 1 finale dialogue : " if you ask me the light's winning". Thank you <3
pusheen buttercup
Wonderfully said... Just remember to take care of yourself too :)
Laura McConnell
From a LEO, know that you are loved and respected, you are our life line and we can't do our job without dispatchers. Thank you for everything you do
Michael Payne
Keep shining star.
Gin Marie
I have sniveled too much already today, Lynette.
Linda Matheny
The dispatchers are amazing and the Police Officers that respond to face danger day in and day out are just as amazing. For all that want to endlessly criticize the Police, please sign up to do a ride along with an officer. You just might get the shit scared out of you!!!!!
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