Saturday, December 13, 2008

Super Power Hearing

If you dispatch for any length of time, you develop a very special super power. Your hearing and ability to "read into" the verbal messages and speech is a very superior skill that builds over experience and time. Since we don't have the opportunity to read the other person's body language like an officer responding to an event, we "hear" differently.

Recently took a 9-1-1 hang up. When I called back to confirm everything was okay, following policy of having the person on the other side of the call confirm address and telephone number, got a male on the phone who was sniffing and muttering child made a mistake (but child was already gone when asked about the child) and he didn't know the address and phone number.

His demeanor, his avoidance, his repetitiveness of "it's a mistake" set off an internal alarm that was forged over years of experience. It told me that something was off center and needed attention. So a call for service was created and officers were sent. Sent a note to the officers that something sounded hinky and they were like, "okay, we'll check it out."

Well, lo and behold, what did officers find? A domestic violence situation with the suspect male trying to hide from officers. After all, he was in violation of a restraining order and on probation. So this visit by officers meant a pair of silver bracelets were gifted to his wrists and a drive down to the county jail for booking with a future return to the state funded country club to finish his original sentence due to, , domestic violence and assault.

The officers were very good about not shrugging off my gut reaction to the call. They took me serious and it paid off. Now, the only problem is, how does a dispatcher explain this super power and ability in an articulate and accurate manner in an easy to understand format for court?


Paige said...

This is so true. I have had several of these calls before. You can always tell weather it is a child (young or older) or an adult if there is something truly wrong. We have so many callers that will hang up, which is a sure sign or something being wrong. We do not get many calls where I live but I have learned to already have this special listening advice =)

Liz said...

That is so true! Happens often enough and it is certainly hard to explain that "sixth sense." We usually just add the comment "calltaker requesting check welfare" at the end of the call following a few details as to why and they just seem to get it.

Anonymous said...

My daughter hated my ears when she was growing up.. I could hear all her friends in the background of the phone... She was busted often!! So much so she just started telling her friends.. DONT TALK IM CALLING MOM! hahah..

JKR said...

Great blog!

"how does a dispatcher explain this super power and ability in an articulate and accurate manner in an easy to understand format for court?" you say.

Easy. Any time a 911 hangup is received in dispatch, it indicates that someone is in need of emergency assistance. That alone establishes a reason for police to be there...

In an effort to conserve precious resources, it is common practice to call back on hangups and speak with a responsible patry to determine whether or not an emergency exists. In your case, you spoke to a male who was sniffing, muttering, and didn't know the address and phone number. Based on the circumstances, you felt the caller's behavior was not sufficient to quell your belief that assistance was necessary, at which time you decided to go ahead and send police to go check on his welfare.

It's not a matter of articulating why police were sent, it's a matter of articulating why they were not sent if they don't respond to a 911 call and something bad happens. Anyone in a position to face that liability knows you definitely did right.

IOW, "When in doubt, send 'em out"