Saturday, May 22, 2010

I spent the day in NYC with my life partner in the sarcastic arts and mutual aficionado of all things British, Dispatcher Snarky Pants. We found an authentic chip shop full of cute ex-pat Brits, took in an August Wilson revival, and pretty much snarked at the throbbing mass of humanity that is NYC on a Friday night. Hey guy in Times Square - free hugs? Really?

Cut to 0300, we're on the interstate headed back home - and stuck behind a very drunk driver for a very long time. We are, of course, not calling this in because we're not in home territory. Yet. We figured, had there been a wreck Snarky Pants is an EMT; and I'm certified in phone dialing and giving CPR to Resusci Anne. I could've dialed 911 like a mofo while Snarky Pants dealt with the gore.

As we approach the exit for Boringtown, Snarky Pants pulls out her cellphone. I shoot a look that says you are not about to become an erratic driver caller, are you really? She intently pre-dials her phone: we are getting this asshole pulled over if he gets off at our exit. Sure enough, the drunk man exits for Boringtown. Snarky Pants dials. We give chase. Or whatever semblance of chase a 4 cylinder Dodge can give.

Sassy Pants: He's speeding up!

Snarky Pants: Of course he is-- he can tell you're following him now!

Sassy Pants: Well I'm sorry! I think I missed the day in dispatcher spy school that covered how to tail a suspect!

Snarky Pants: MI:5 - season 4.

Sassy Pants: Touche.

In the end, drunk man pulled into a development before an officer could get to us. We found this rather unsporting of him since we had been stuck behind him on the interstate afraid to pass for fear of an MVA for the better part of 25 miles.

I spoke to the responding officer my next shift in, making sure to begin the conversation by apologizing profusely. He assured me that they had prior contact with the subject and was very likely "drunk off his ass". And then he gave me shit for the rest of the shift for being "that caller".

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The one where I get left for another dispatcher

Our radio system sucks. It's old, it's dodgy, I hate it, and the cops hate it, obviously. Depending on the district, weather, and where the officer is transmitting from I find myself repeating things a lot. I also get to have bionic ear moments where I pick out whole transmissions from nothing but static - which is cool, but I'd rather it worked better.

There is one department, The Dub, that is off our crap system and self-dispatches separate from the county on so-fabulous-you-could-hear-a-pin-drop digital. Digital, mind you, that I cannot hear. They often work with neighboring departments that are dispatched off the crap system - so they have given them - wait for it - digital portables that they can hear The Dub on. There are things that go on between these departments that I get completely cut out of. Dub dispatch is good with letting us know where they are, and mostly the officers are very good about giving me a heads up - grudgingly I try and accept that they have equipment belonging to another in their cars.

Cut to two weeks ago. The Dub, being a university town, is expecting some Facebook induced flash drinking mob because it happens to be finals week. My surrounding department, Mayberry RFD, is in The Dub in anticipation of shit hitting the fan. Mercifully, they operate off my system for the night. It's busier than all hell, I keep Mayberry running all night, they keep me busy with self-initiated activity, and come 0400 we are all worn smooth out--but in that we've been through battle together way that makes you think it's a good night. I feel like I worked my ass off for them, got things done properly and expediently, and I feel like part of the team for a little bit.

Late in the shift Dub dispatch calls and asks if I can send Mayberry out to an address in Mayberry - Dub dispatch has an officer there doing a follow up and there's an open door. It's 0400 or thereabouts, this is "not good news. " I appreciate that the dispatcher did not just use the digital and completely cut me out of sending my officers into something potentially dangerous, and I send them on their way.

Mayberry arrives on scene and the lead officer keys up on my radio that I have practically BLED on him for this night and says: "show us on scene, however we will be keeping status with The Dub -- their equipment works better here."

I felt like I had been shot in the heart AND divorced all at once, in public.

After the incident was handled, uneventfully I might add, I gathered my wits about me and summoned Lead Officer Jackass via MDC. I informed him that he had, in fact, left me for a man.... because he liked his equipment better. I furthermore reminded him that I can only work with the equipment I have and until his department decides to be dispatched elsewhere - I'm your momma and don't you dare do that to me again!

This is something that I know LOJ won't think about again. I know I will remember it the rest of my career, because I take this job and his safety very personally. I'm not just the voice on the radio, I'm the one starting back-up your way before you ask for it because I just know. Respect that, and me.