A day in the life of a 911 dispatcher

Car crashes, fires and assaults. Before a police officer or firefighter can respond to these situations, a dispatcher is on the other end of the call.

Posted: Apr 21, 2019 4:25 PM
Updated: Apr 22, 2019 10:52 AM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Every day, they answer 911 calls, and KEZI 9 News got a behind the scenes look about what it's like inside the Central Lane Communications Center.

Dispatchers help people during the worst moments of their lives. It's a difficult and demanding job -- one that takes intense focus.

Car crashes, fires and assaults: Before a police officer or firefighter can respond to these situations, a dispatcher is on the other end of the call.

"I answer and process non-emergency and emergency calls for service," said Daniel Barnes, a commutations specialist at Central Lane. "I comment on our 911 lines and our service lines as well."

After that, Barnes sends appropriate units to those calls.

"I'm more than happy to take people from the worst, calm them down, help them realize that 'hey, I have help on the way,' and I'm gonna try to make their day a little bit better," Barnes said.

Each time a 911 dispatcher answers a call, they need to be prepared for any situation and need to know what to say to help the caller.

"We do get a lot of domestic violence calls," he said. "Those are tough to process, especially when there's kids involved."

Barnes said the calls can be intense.

"My most intense call was a head-on collision on Highway 58 near the Dexter area where the car caught on fire with people still inside of it," he said.

The calls don't stop, not on weekends or holidays.

"It's tough," he said. "You do miss birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, but luckily my wife is a great support system doing this job."

Despite that, Barnes said the pros outweigh the cons.

"We're considered the first, first responders," he said. "We're the ones that as soon as you call us, we're the ones immediately helping you out before the fire department or the police department gets on scene."

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