Going behind the scenes with emergency dispatchers

Published: Apr. 10, 2018 at 7:24 PM MDT
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From the mundane to the bizarre, and even the violent, more than 1,000 police, fire and EMS calls come through through the Grand Junction Regional Communication Center every day.

Jeff Burckhalter has worked at the center for four years. The center handles calls for the Grand Junction Police Department, the Mesa County Sheriff's Office and all of the other fire and EMS departments in the county.

"It's a huge team environment," Burckhalter said. "There is usually eight of us in here. Someone else in the room is going to answer the phone and take that call initially and it's going to pop up on my board and I'm going to give it out to an officer as soon as I can."

Burckhalter said the team is constantly communicating with the officers with where they're location what they are doing.

"They may have suspect information that they want us to look into and get a description of," he said.

Dispatchers go through more than a year of training so they are able to handle any situation.

"It can be hard to keep our emotions in check [without the training]," Burckhalter said. "Some of the more intense ones are the medical calls that involve kids. Whether you're trying to do CPR to a two-year-old or someone is choking."

But through it all, they serve as a vital link to keep everyone safe.

"Definitely a big change of pace and a good way to help people," Burckhalter said.

The communications center is in the process of getting a new system to improve technology, including Text to 911 and even Video to 911. The upgrades should be in place later this year.

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