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New Hanover County 911 dispatchers have a long, but rewarding job

READ MORE: New Hanover County 911 dispatchers have a long, but rewarding job
When you have an emergency, someone has to be there to answer your 911 call, no matter the hour. For 911 dispatchers, that means early morning hours and long days. For 12 hours a day Debbie Meshaw sits in the New Hanover County 911 Center ready to answer your call. She, like at least a dozen other dispatchers, has to be at work before 7:00 a.m. to relieve the overnight crew. “We're here until about 6:45 in the evening, so it's from 5:15 until 7:30 – 7:45 at night before we get home,” said Meshaw. Although they work for twelve hours, Debbie does not mind the schedule. Dispatchers work two days on, two days off; then three days on, three days off. To help get through the long days they go through cup after cup of coffee, averaging between four and five pots a day. But that is not the only way they get energized. Dispatcher Pamela Graham said, “The adrenaline keeps flowing and we keep moving.” 911 dispatchers are usually the first responders on the scene. Though they are not there in person, they are there on the phone often serving as a lifeline to someone in need. “Stressful. It is very rewarding, but very stressful. We're very busy, we're a very busy center, and we take a lot of calls,” said Meshaw. How many calls? The center took about 500,000 calls last year. Telecommunication Supervisor Brenda Hewlett said, “Some days its quiet, some days its not. We never know when that call will come in for assistance.” For Pamela Graham, being there offering that assistance, is rewarding. So much so, she drives from Bladen County to get there. “The satisfaction you get from the job, the overwhelming incidents that go on - but I just fell in love with it anyway.” And that is one of the main reasons the hours and schedule are worth it. Of course, there is a whole new crew of 911 dispatchers who start their day at 7:00 p.m. and work until this crew relieves them just before 7:00 a.m.

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Law Enforcement

I just want you to know that I have a lot of respect for law enforcement and the 911 dispatchers.Since the death of my son in January I have become very interested in everything about the law.I applaud all of you for the long hours and late nights you put in trying to keep us safe.And since my sons death I know how hard all of you work. I have actually thought about training to become a 911 dispatcher.So many people have come forth to help me and my family and I would love to be able to give something back.I only wish I had done this about 20 years ago. Thank you all, for all you do.

great post all of u.

great post all of u.

The real heroes....

As a trained telecommunicator in this county, I feel comfortable noting that the REAL heroes are not us, nor are they necessarily those who respond to each dispatch (deputies, officers, firefighters, and paramedics.) We've all been trained to do the job we do, so in that aspect, we're no more heroic that the average person who gets up and goes to his or her job each day. In my opinion, the REAL heroes are the ones who see or find themselves in a situation that forces them to confront something awful and make the decision to act...or ignore. Countless times, I've taken calls from people who called 911 because they happened upon someone laying in the roadway and decided that they could not ignore that or stand idly by. To the people who call 911 on behalf of someone else, I offer a tremendous thank you. To those that make the decision to go even further, I offer enormous gratitude and extend many hopes for abundant blessings. The caller may not even know the person that they are calling us at 911 for, but they are right there, giving us all the information they have, following our instructions to perform CPR until EMS and fire can arrive, or holding a pressure dressing on uncontrolled blood flow from a complete stranger. The average caller isn't trained for such things, so they are indeed going above and beyond to help someone in need. This in no way means I have no respect for my fellow telecommunicators or law enforcement officials, firefighters, or medics. I do, because I know that this line of work takes a special person dedicated to helping others. But the people who have NO training, make the call to 911 for help, and THEN go even further by actually taking our directions to help another are the TRUE heroes.

911 Dispatchers

Being a dispatcher is a ruff job and it takes a special type of person to be one, I know because I was one for about a year. I retired from KBPD in 1999 after 29 years as a LEO and I know how important dispatchers are. Sonetimes you love them to death and sometimes you would just like to do them in. As a street Officer there were many times when a dispatcher would just get under my skin and I wanted to ring their necks. However, I know that there were times when they thought the same about me. All in all though, threw out my time in LE I had a lot of trust in them and they were there when I needed them ckecking on me and sending me help when I needed it. Worring about me when I was at bad calls by myself and didn't answer their calls to check on me. They have a ruff job, if you don't think so spend a shift with them and you'll see. Thanks to all the dispatchers everywhere. Sgt.T.E.Williams Retired/KBPD

Unsung Heroes

911 dispatchers don't get enough recognition, so I am glad to see this article. It is a thankless job and I cannot imagine the patience and unending empathy these folks must have. Thank you for serving your community!!