Day in the life of
911 Dispatcher – Melissa Parks
I was a 911 Dispatcher for 5 years in the Metro Nashville Police Department, Nashville TN. I can still say, without hesitation, that it was one of the best positions I’ve ever had, and I was very good at it. I could have retired as a career dispatcher, save for a few aspects impossible to ignore.
My typical day
The beauty and attraction of this position, in addition to being the help that people needed, is that there was no typical day. Every day was based on multiple elements, including weather, the season, what shift you were on, holidays, local/national events, what officers were working that day, etc.
The only constant to expect and anticipate is that you had no idea what would unfold throughout your shift. Most days were extremely busy, with a rare quiet before the storm day thrown in for fun.
- Being part of the police department, what some would call an elite organization
- Having contacts with power (real or perceived)
- Being a contact with power (real or perceived)
- Providing crucial assistance to someone desperately in need, who probably never thought they’d ever have to call 911
- Learning parts of your city (I had just moved to Nashville a few months prior, so training it was extra tough for me)
- Constantly sharpening skills (listening, hearing, communication, public interaction, professionalism, memory, balance, multi-tasking, etc)
- Developing new hobbies & skills in your off time to aid in de-stressing and relaxation (that can ultimately lead to a new career)
- Mandatory annual training, support from the department, decent benefits
- Now knowing what clearly constitutes a life and death situation lol
- Having to detach (turn off emotions, compassion, & ignore almost every other normal human reaction) to be successful at your job
- Sometimes having to make jokes / have nicknames for people in certain situations (still bothers me to this day that I was that person)
- Constant shift work while you earn seniority and rise through the ranks – midnights were difficult for me & negatively affected my life
- Consistent, quality childcare is tough to manage when your schedule is regularly changing
- Politics and expected ass-kissing that accompany government/public service jobs – ultimately led to me resigning, since I was never good at playing the game and knew I never would be
- The stress level is real… knowing you have seconds to simultaneously get the right information from a caller so you can get the right help to the right place and provide first responders with the right details and descriptions on your radio while they are enroute while also connecting by phone with superiors, supervisors, and auxiliary services can be daunting, especially first starting out
- Constantly answering and talking on the phone – I hate talking on the phone to this very day, and most times do not answer it and haven’t listened to a voicemail in a decade
I would cook at home to de-stress, and take the food I cooked to work the following day. Officers would get word from my colleagues that we had food that day, and would swing by if they were in the area. They always had something to anticipate and kept telling me I was in the wrong field because I was exceptionally talented in the kitchen. I left the department and ended up in catering and special events, businesses I grew from nothing and operated for many years. I currently have invested in my other true love, fashion, and recently launched my very first online boutique EyeDentifeyed Premium Eye Attire, Sunglasses for the Bold, Edgy, & Confident.
I always hold a special place in my heart and memories as a 911 Dispatcher. I’m proud to have been one and carry tremendous respect for the work they do.
operate telephone, radio, or other communication systems to receive and communicate requests for emergency assistance at 9-1-1 public safety answering points and emergency operations centers. Take information from the public and other sources regarding crimes, threats, disturbances, acts of terrorism, fires, medical emergencies, and other public safety matters. May coordinate and provide information to law enforcement and emergency response personnel. May access sensitive databases and other information sources as needed. May provide additional instructions to callers based on knowledge of and certification in law enforcement, fire, or emergency medical procedures.