In Honor of National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) and its affiliate, CHP-Public Safety Dispatchers Association (CHP-PSDA) are featuring members and saying thank you to ALL public safety dispatchers and communications operators.
Here are some thoughts from Public Safety Dispatcher Amy Harris, public safety dispatcher at the CHP Golden Gate Communications Center. Thank you, Amy!
What is one of your most memorable 911 calls?
Unfortunately, it was a mother calling whose chile was just struck by an automobile. It stuck with me because my son was the same age as the child who was hit. The child did not survive. I often think of that mother still and it has been over 10 years.
What is one of your most memorable calls on the radio?
I would have to say it was a shooting at the Richmond San Rafael toll plaza. It was at shift change and I called the office and both shifts headed that way. It was intense because we did not have a lot of details and weren’t sure if the armed suspect was still there. It ended up being a love triangle and the ex-boyfriend shot his ex-girlfriend who was a toll taker on the bridge and her new boyfriend. He was later apprehended.
If there is a “second career” in your future, what will it be?
I would love to do something working with dogs. Maybe a doggie day care would be fun!
Do you have a quirky sense of humor as a result of your experiences and how you deal with them?
Yes, you almost have to as a survival mechanism. Some things we say, others would surely be offended by.
Have you ever had a 911 caller seek you out to say thank you?
No, not yet.
What is one of the most ridiculous calls you have answered?
I never understand people who call because their young children refuse to go to school. They are small, pick them up and stick them in the car and take them to school. 😉
What is an accomplishment you are most proud of as it relates to your career?
Having over 20 years of service, this profession takes its toll on people, physically and mentally.
How do you relieve the stress?
I enjoy reading, and watching Dr. Phil. 😉
Best advice you have received from a fellow dispatcher?
Try not to bring work home. Try to unwind on the drive home, and also don’t work too much. You need days off to decompress.
Your thoughts on being formally recognized in California as a first responder?
I think it’s great and was a long time coming! Should have happened many years ago.
Your favorite thing to bring to work with you or have on your desk?
I am a bag lady – I bring a lot of bags with things to do in them, I make lists and menus, etc.
What made you choose this as your career?
My dad was a Solano County Sheriff deputy while I was growing up, and my mom was a dispatcher for Albany Police. They both encouraged me because the benefits were better than most jobs at the time.