A Day In the Life of a 911 Operator

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Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of the first ever 911 call. Since that time, new technology and a constantly changing world has kept dispatch operators busy.

"911, what is your emergency?"

For the dispatch operators in Grand Junction, it's just another day at the office. They answer an average of one-thousand 911 calls a day, give crews vital information and tell them where to respond, and keep panicked callers calm.

Many say it's the thrill of the job that keeps them going and made them want to be a dispatch operator in the first place.

"There's a chance to help people and give back to the community," said communications shift supervisor Glen Klaich, "but it's also a challenging job in that everyday is a series of problems we have to solve."

But those challenges don't begin and end with the 911 calls. As technology continues to change and the city continues to grow, officials say dispatch operators have to be able to adapt. They say as we move into the wireless age. The number of calls has increased, and as more people continue to move to the Grand Valley the potential for emergency situations becomes greater.

"Sometimes it's extremely busy and the next minute everything quiets down," said communications center manager Paula Creasy. "You never know what's going to happen from one minute to the next."

Dispatch operators say learning to deal with that uncertainty is one of the hardest parts of their job, especially when they get a serious call.

"During the difficult calls, we have to focus on making sure we do our job, and do that job correctly," said Klaich.

But they say it's defining moments like those that truly make their jobs worthwhile.

"Most rewarding, I think, would be to go home at the end of the day and know you've made a difference," said Klaich.

Grand Junction Dispatch says it receives about 400,000 emergency phone calls a year.

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