When someone dials 911, they are most likely having one of their worst days ever. For the 911 dispatchers at Mecklenburg County Emergency Communications Center, it is just another day. These dispatchers that sit in a room in Boydton, are trained and experienced in nearly any situation that you can imagine. These unseen men and women are equipped to help you get the proper help in seconds, and also provide you with lifesaving instructions to help save the life of the person you are trying to get help for.

911 dispatchers are often called the heroes behind the headset, or the first first responders. Many people do not realize that the first person they are going to speak to or come in con- tact with during an emergency, is the dispatcher on the other end of the phone when you dial 911. These dis- patchers have been trained for several months before they ever take a call, and they continue to train throughout their career so that they are always up to date on the latest upgrades and information. They have been trained on how to deal with every situation, whether it is who to call about an animal complaint, or how to give CPR instructions over the phone to help save lives. Each year the dispatchers that are credited with saving a life through these CPR instructions are recognized at the annual banquet held during each National Telecommunicator Week in April. This past year alone, the 911 center in Mecklenburg had 13 saves through these instructions that were given by the dispatchers.

The dispatchers also work with each first responder agency in the county, sometimes all at the same time. The sheriff’s office, all police departments, fire departments, rescue squads and

first responders. They also coordinate with Virginia State Police through their dispatchers in Appomattox, and also provide assistance when requested to surrounding counties. When there is a multi agency operation going on such as a motor vehicle accident, the dispatchers in the 911 center are the ones that are helping to coordinate things with the supervisors in the field to make sure that everything goes smoothly and that all requests are taken care of and in a timely matter. Whether it is calling for a helicopter to transport a critically injured patient, or calling a tow truck to remove a wrecked vehicle, the dispatchers handle all of these requests, while simultaneously continuing to answer every call that comes in, and making sure all radio traffic is answered.

911 dispatchers are an integral part of the first responders in Mecklenburg County. They are often forgotten because they are always heard but never seen. Dispatchers are also responsible for making sure all war- rants and protective orders that are obtained through the magistrates or the court are entered. They spend a lot of their time making sure all of this paperwork is taken care of and in a timely manner. Dispatchers work 24/7 365 on weekends, holidays, birthdays and anniversaries so that the citizens of Mecklenburg County are getting the help they need in an emergency situation.

When it comes to getting the recognition for their hard work and dedication, 911 dispatchers are often forgotten in the first responders world, but the importance of what the men and women at the Mecklenburg County Emergency Communications Center do on a daily basis should always be recognized.