Cathedral City, CA
Emergency dispatchers may have the most important role when tragedy strikes. They are the first eyes and ears on the scene. And this week, is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.
Jennifer Nellis, is a Cathedral City emergency dispatcher. She works in one of the busiest dispatch centers in the desert.
"When the phone rings and all of the lines ring at the same time, you’re like oh my god what happened," says Nellis.
Besides Cathedral City Police Department and Fire Department, they also oversee Desert Hot Springs police.
But as busy as they are, there’s no say in which call will be a tragic one.
"You kind of prepare yourself like I’m answering the phone because there’s four 911 (calls) and there’s something going on but the stuff that happens doesn’t always happens like that, sometimes it’s just one caller," says Nellis.
And don’t mistake dispatchers as just another call center, these professionals are the first ones to help during emergencies.
"It’s truly a trust factor we have with the dispatch, that they are getting us all the pertinent information, any hazards that we might encounter when we go one scene, how many suspects might be there, their clothing description and they are constantly updating us with information."
Sometimes that information may help solve a case.
"When the officer cleared, something that he said struck me strange," says Nellis. She added, "when he called he still had the person within eye-sight and I asked him something about what the person was wearing and what his demeanor was, and what color the car he came in because he ran his plate, and we were able to figure out that he had been the one who committed the crime over night."
Nellis says, she doesn’t do it for the recognition. It’s a stressful job but they have the ability to help those who may be living through the worst time of their lives.