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 Tina Brazil, CHP-PSDA President, union site representative and dispatcher at the CHP Communications Center in Merced. Thank you, Tina!
What is one of your most memorable 911 calls?
There are so many! One of them that stands out is a suicidal high school freshman that was hiding in the school bathroom to commit suicide because she could no longer handle the bullying she was getting every day. She was extremely upset and hard to understand. I kept her talking and answering questions, and finally got a location. She happened to be at the same high school near me. I finally figured out what bathroom on campus she was in and my coworkers were on the phone with the high school and local police to get help to her. They found her before she could harm herself.
What is one of your most memorable calls on the radio?
After 24 years on the job there are several. From officers in physical altercations, shots being fired at officers, officers hit by vehicles, pursuits, 1010 broadcasts, etc…
If there is a “second career” in your future, what will it be?
I think I currently have that second career in being President of CHP-PSDA, and Sr Vice President of CSLEA. I work very hard to keep our issues on the front lines for all dispatchers/operators and all affiliates. I stay on top of the needs/issues during contract negotiations of every affiliate within CSLEA.
Do you have a quirky sense of humor as a result of your experiences and how you deal with them?
I think we all develop that quirky sense of humor; it is how we all deal with the stress of the job. We understand each other and the situations. Some of the things we talk about on the dispatch floor might raise an eyebrow but we live this every day!
Have you ever had a 911 caller seek you out to say thank you?
A couple of times… One time in a letter to the editor of a local newspaper. Most of the time on the phone as we deal with the call.
What is one of the most ridiculous calls you have answered?
Okay!! I received a call from the mom of a 14-year-old who was trying to explain to her that he was vacuuming the car as a surprise for her but somehow got the vacuum stuck on his private part!!
You could hear him yelling in the background and his mom was trying hard not to laugh hysterically while sounding concerned for him. He was upset she was on 911!!
What is an accomplishment you are most proud of as it relates to your career?
All in all, there have been issues we have faced and overcome for CHP dispatchers/operators, all the way back to when we first got the step raise for training, raises and positive language changes in contracts. We are very proud of AB1945 that officially makes us first responders!! My time as a trainer helping to bring great dispatchers into CHP.
How do you relieve the stress?
We talk among each other on the dispatch floor. I have fellow dispatchers/board members that I talk to when things get very heavy. Sometimes trying to talk with your family can stress them out because of the stressors you have faced, so we are all careful with that. We like to travel, spend time with our family, this is extremely helpful in getting through the stress.
Best advice you have received from a fellow dispatcher?
"This is not just a job, it is a way of life, own it". This career chooses you because of who you are and your ability to help others.
Your thoughts on being formally recognized in California as a first responder?
AB 1945!! This is a very big beginning step for all of us statewide. We are officially a part of the first responder family. This puts us on the right track for other issues that need to be recognized like PTSD issues. We all worked very hard on this bill. Each state is doing this on their own because at this time we cannot get the federal government to recognize us as first responders.
Your favorite thing to bring to work with you or have on your desk?
Ok, all of you need to admit “FOOD/DRINKS”!!… We all have our own way we move things around to make our desk functional, where we put our pens, phones, cups. Myself, it is my cups, which ones and where they sit on my desk!!
What do you see for Dispatchers in the future?
I think we are in and headed into difficult times for law enforcement. As things develop around our country it changes the practices and policies of law enforcement, which has to include dispatchers/operators. We cannot be left behind in decision making, training, and policies!!