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 Devon Young, CHP-PSDA Southern Division Director, union site representative and dispatcher at the CHP Los Angeles Communication Center. Thank you, Devon!
What is one of your most memorable 911 calls?
My most memorable 911 call was a of a husband that had just killed his wife. He dialed 911 to advise that he had just done this and that his 9-year-old son was present as well. His demeanor was extremely calm and he offered little remorse for what he had done. For a moment, I thought it might be a prank call, but something just told me it was not. When I asked how he had killed her, he said he had stabbed her. He offered no resistance in any questioning including his location. To ensure the safety of the child (as well as the suspect), I remained on the line with the Burbank Police department so that I could help coordinate his apprehension and the well-being of the child. Burbank Police arrived on scene and successfully placed the suspect into custody, and I disconnected the call with my fellow Burbank Police 911 professional.
What is one of your most memorable calls on the radio?
My most memorable call on the radio was involving a tenured motor officer in a vehicle pursuit. What stood out most to me was when the officer advised that if the suspect vehicle stopped and the suspect then took “foot-bail”, he would not be able to catch him. Though this was a slightly humorous moment amidst clear and present danger, clearly his physical fitness was in question at this point. This incident serves as a constant reminder how serious we must all take our wellness.
If there is a second career in your future what will it be?
A second career for me might include collegiate classroom instruction or a leadership role at another agency.
Do you have a quirky sense of humor as a result of your experiences and how you deal with them?
Yes, unfortunately. Digesting thousands of cumulatively traumatic calls over my 23-year career has made me numb and sometimes amused at conditions most might find adverse. Unfortunately, dealing with this personality sometimes requires unhealthy means to overcome.
Have you ever had a 911 caller seek you out to say thank you?
Yes, indirectly. I have had several callers recall and ask my direct supervisor to relay the message of gratitude.
What is the most ridiculous call you have answered?
There are too many to count. But the ridiculousness always tends to resolve itself when I simply repeat back to the caller what they just told me. Sometimes we just need a sounding board to realize the error of our ways…
What is an accomplishment you are most proud of as it relates to your career?
I am most proud of the many public safety professionals I have trained or instructed throughout my career in various capacities.
How do you relieve the stress?
Though infrequent, travel is my best stress reliever.
Best advice you have received from a fellow dispatcher?
That I would never get anyone killed…
Your thoughts on being formally recognized in California as a First Responder?
I love it and it is long overdue. This is now the beginning of becoming whole...
Your favorite thing to bring to work with you or put on your desk every day?
I really enjoy my academic endeavors, so placing my personal laptop on my desk every day is what I enjoy most.
What made you choose this as your career?
Being a public safety professional actually chose me, I did not choose it…