COLORADO SPRINGS — “Colorado Springs Police and Fire,” a call taker with Colorado Springs 911 Communications calmly asks a caller a series of questions to find out the urgency of their issue. The hub for emergency services communication takes close to 300,000 911 calls a year. Then another 300,000 to the non-emergency lines.
“We know that there’s going to be huge increases as we go forward,” said Public Safety Communication Manger, Renee Henshaw. The community is rapidly growing and that will bring more emergency situations.
More staff is needed, only it has been tough filling spots since the pandemic when staffing dipped. Henshaw said, “It takes a long time to rebuild when we have a large exit in our staff, because that training is so lengthy. So, we’ve been playing catch-up.”
A desire to help others is a qualification many meet. “It becomes difficult when you’re the lifeline for those people,” said Henshaw. The difficulty is not everybody has a strong ability to stay calm under pressure and to separate personal feelings from life-threatening situations.
Jen K’Miller has been taking 911 calls and dispatching for more than 20 years. She said it can be difficult, but she also loves the career. “It’s something new and different every day and it’s the best way I can think of to help other people.”
Each calls requires its own approach. “Pull out my problem solving and how’s the best way to help them.”
Then when turning to emergency dispatch mode the job requires split-second strategic planning. “I’m on the radios. It’s a big game of chess,” said K’Miller, “Which officer is going to go where and do what and how.”
The career rewards go beyond pay and benefits. There is a pay-off, at times sensed from the other end of the phone line.
“You can hear it, sometimes it’s just the person calming down and realizing that help is on the way,” said K’Miller.
To find out more about jobs with 911 in Colorado Springs click here.
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