America’s Unseen First Responders

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This past week, our nation has faced indescribable tragedy on a level no sane person can even begin to comprehend. We have seen fruits of evil firsthand, but as is always the case, one man’s wickedness was met with an outpouring of love, bravery and compassion by millions.

Front and center of the heroes were the men and women of law enforcement who so selflessly placed their lives in great peril in order to save masses of individuals they would never meet.

We also witnessed the scores of medical professionals, ranging from EMTs to hospital nurses, doctors and staff members, place their emotions to the side in order to meet the immediate needs of dying victims.

Still, behind all of these service men and women is a proud and silent club few people ever meet or speak of, yet these individuals are the first ones to begin offering aid and assistance to victims – often while unspeakable crimes or medical emergencies are in the process. These people are the dispatchers of 9-1-1.

The people of the Las Vegas Metro Police Dispatch were the first to hear the frantic voices of the 20,000 crying souls begging for help as bullets ricocheted over their heads. As the Las Vegas Strip was turned into a warzone, the professional dispatchers orchestrated law enforcement, medical assistance and alerted hospitals on behalf of people whom they could only speak with over the phone.

After the dust had settled and the shooter was subdued, however, they had to get back to work fielding their routine calls. Calls from mothers who had choking infants still needing assistance in spite of what was going on elsewhere in the city. Calls from suicidal heartbroken men who may have drunk too much that evening. Calls from lonely and sweet old women scared of the dark. Calls from people just like you and me.

The life of a 911 dispatcher is one that produces feelings of loneliness, helplessness and anxiety; yet through it all, they must be the voice of calm and first link between the troubled and the assistance they so desperately require.

911 dispatchers typically don’t make a career out of doing what they do, in fact, most dispatchers find a new job between their second and third years. Apparently, a person can only take so many calls that open with the line, “I’m going to kill myself,” then end with a horrific boom.

Or maybe it’s calls from a father who is holding the severed limbs of his child beside the roadway that does them in. Who knows? But what is clear is that the job is indescribably hard and has a way of taxing one’s emotions in a way like few others.

We appreciate so greatly our first responders, but it’s time we as a nation make the effort to get to know and value the unseen voice on the other end of the line that serves as the truest first responder – the first person to respond to our immediate cry for help.

No one wakes up in the morning expecting to dial those three numbers (9-1-1) in the coming day, but when they are forced to call, they expect for the voice on the other end of the phone to be a steady and reassuring voice. As Americans, we have a lot to be thankful for and one thing that we so often fail to recognize when we’re giving thanks is that there is a reliable number we can dial in our hour of maximum peril. Thank you 9-1-1 dispatcher.

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