Inside the life of a 911 dispatcher - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Inside the life of a 911 dispatcher

Posted: Updated:
SOUTH CHARLESTON, West Virginia -

When we need help, we call 911.  Car accidents, crime, health problems, but when we call, who's on the other end of the line?

"Oh, it takes a strong person," Ellen Griffith said.  Griffith is a 911 dispatcher at Metro 911 in Kanawha County.

All of the action happens inside of the Communications Center.  Nearly a dozen people per shift are dispatching our emergency responders to where they need to be in Kanawha County.

Dispatchers get up to a thousand calls a day.  They say it's a rewarding experience.  Years ago, Paul Dryden answered a call. 

"It was a father," he said.  "He was pretty hysterical.  His one week old child, he went in to check on him and he wasn't breathing, laying in the bed."

Dryden did what dispatchers are trained to do.  He calmly told that father how to start CPR.  Minutes later, "The child started breathing on his own.  One of the medics called and informed me that what I told the father saved the child's life," Dryden said. 

Griffith said, "Every call that comes in is different."  She's been a dispatcher for four years. 

She said it takes a special kind of person to do her job.  "You have to let everything so when you walk out of here and not let it get to you.  There are calls that will.  You will think about it.  But most of the time, I do pretty good now about just letting it go when I walk out the door."

So they can come back, and do it all over again the next day.

This week is National Telecommunicators Week.  The goal  is to recognize the men and women who work these high-pressure jobs every day.