Area 911 dispatchers are responsible for sending officers, fire crews and ambulances to the scene of emergencies 24 hours a day.
At the Southington Police Department, there are typically three dispatchers working on any eight-hour shift. Joseph Silverio, who has been working as a dispatcher for 12½ years, said there is no typical day.
“Sometimes it’s intense, sometimes it’s not,” Silverio said. “Most of the time it’s routine. But it’s always very interesting.”
Southington dispatcher Wendi Roy said the public might not realize the pressure dispatchers are under on a daily basis. Roy said they often have seconds to get the information they need from a caller and get the right responders to the location.
Dispatchers are certified by the state and receive ongoing training, including coping with stress. Roy said some of the ways they are taught to handle job stress include yoga and other forms of exercise.
Dispatcher David Shaffer, who has been with the Southington Police Department for two years, said the experience has been an eye opener. There are times when the call volume makes it challenging to get responders to all the places they need to be, he added.
Sometimes the situation is caused by residents using the 911 system for situations that are not emergencies.
Wallingford dispatcher Kris Ryan agreed and said she would like to see more public education about the 911 system.
Shaffer and Roy emphasized it is important to leave their work behind when they go home at the end of their shifts.
“When you have a kid that’s the same age as the one involved in the incident it really hits home,” Shaffer said.
Southington Police Lt. Steve Elliott and Deputy Chief William Palmieri both called dispatchers the “unsung heroes” of the department.
Elliott added they are the “first link in the chain of getting help where it needs to go.”
April 8 to 14 was National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.