“It may have been the worst week of the year so far, to be honest,” said Josh Cole, dispatch supervisor for the Lucas County Emergency Management Center.
TOLEDO, Ohio — Eight people were shot in Toledo last week, stressing not only first responders but also those dispatched to the scene of the crime.
911 dispatchers operate behind the scenes and their critical role in saving lives is often not recognized.
However, at the National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, Toledo Fire Chief Allison Armstrong sent a letter from the Regional Council of Government thanking the dispatchers for their service and diligence.
Josh Cole, Lucas County 911 Regional Council Supervisor, who has worked in 911 dispatch for 12 years, said this week has been tough. The center received calls to fire in central, east and west Toledo on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
“It may have been the worst week of the year so far, to be honest,” Cole said.
Each phone is different, and some are particularly difficult, Coles said.
“The day we lost Toledo firefighters Jamie (Dickman) and Steve (Machinski). So that was probably the most memorable day.”
Dispatcher Jessica Shaffer, who has worked at the center for two years, said: “Someone called me and shot me in the face while I was on the phone. So I had to leave. He Thankfully I survived,” he said.
Whether it’s a call receptionist like Shafer or the police and firefighters she calls, Cole said everyone does their part.
Taking tough calls is just part of the job, as is staying calm, asking the caller the necessary questions, and determining first responders who can help the caller. And all that while looking at at least five different active screens.
“Usually that day is the worst day for that person. They are screaming in your ear for help. We’re trying to figure it out in a different way, and it’s very challenging,” Cole said.
But they love helping people, so they come back every day. No one knows who is on the phone, so they are more than happy to help anyone in need.
“We are the first people to call when they need something,” says Shafer. “No matter how small or how big your problem is, we are the ones you call.”
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