Why Do Dispatchers Ask So Many Questions?

Guess who’s guest blogging for Director/Chief Olko today.  Yes, it’s me! Hello everyone, I’m Police Service Officer Quentessa Tuff and I have the privilege of blogging about being a dispatcher.

It’s been about six months since Hollywood released THE CALL, starring Halle Berry, a movie based on a 9-1-1 dispatcher. It’s intriguing to finally have my career being portrayed on the big screen! Who better to play me than Halle Berry…a girl can dream, right?

halle berry

The movie is fairly close to reality; especially during the emotions that a dispatcher can exhibit during an in progress call (“hot call”). But we don’t tend to get out in the field and become investigators.

A high five goes out to Hollywood for making the dispatch career even more interesting.

WHY DO WE ASK SO MANY QUESTIONS?

There are significant reasons for asking a lot of questions during a 9-1-1 call and even the non-emergency calls. As dispatchers our responsibility is to ask questions to ensure the safety of the callers and the officers.

Here are a couple of the questions that will be asked:

  • What’s the location of the emergency?  This is usually the first question. We are asking you for an address, business name, street name or the city of the emergency. This is imperative because we want to get you help as fast as we can.
  • What is your phone number? This is asked in case we lose connection we can call you back.

When a hot call comes in we will attempt to stay on the line with the caller until units arrive. This helps determine whether the situation is escalating or has calmed down and the caller can give us a description of what’s going on. Several questions will be asked during this time prior to the officer’s or ambulances arrival.

The type of emergency will dictate the type of questions that will be asked and just so you know, staying on the line with us doesn’t slow down the help that is coming your way. Typically we are staffed with at least two dispatchers for each shift. We are dispatching the officers and/or ambulance, updating them with new information, and checking the computer system for further information to assist with the call.

While all these things are going on, the phone lines don’t necessarily stop. There could be additional emergencies or non-emergency calls that need to be handled, too. In this career it’s essential to be a team player because we work collectively to get the help that’s needed to the caller and information to the responders.

There’s so much more to this “behind-the-scenes” career and I enjoy talking to you about it. I hope this encourages you to share this information with others.