Dispatchers save lives everyday inside Macomb County's COMTEC
MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. (FOX 2) - They save lives every day but you rarely get a glimpse of them.
This week, the nation honors dispatchers who are just a call away. FOX 2 goes inside the Macomb County COMTEC Center to see what it takes to get the job done.
You remember the video from the first week of April - a high-speed police chase in Macomb County - these can be the worst moments in life.
"911 what's your emergency?"
And in Macomb County they're routed into the trusted hands of 60 dispatchers who sit here inside the Macomb County COMTEC Center. It is where things get real, quickly.
"The security guard was sexually assaulted and she ran outside," said Derrick Jones, a dispatcher. "And she went for help and the suspect ran into a house and took someone hostage."
Just another day on the job for Derrick Jones. When you've been a dispatcher for 21 years, nothing surprises you. Diffusing a hostage situation - or for others it is far more personal.
Katie Welk has been a dispatcher in Macomb County for just over a year.
"I actually got the call from my grandpa, he passed away and I got the call," she said. "I didn't know it at the time because he lived at an assisted living. And I got that call."
The job means fielding hundreds of calls a day from the 911 system. This week has been set aside to honor dispatchers across the country.
It is a job that requires discipline, empathy and knack of keeping cool no matter what. Even when it's strange.
FOX 2: What is one of the most bizarre calls you've gotten?"
"I don't even know if I can say it on TV," said dispatcher Kristin Fournier with a laugh.
But for the most part it's raw, dramatic and someone's life hangs on the line.
"It can be stressful, trying to get the person to calm down," Fournier said. "But we have so many of them, that after a while it's pretty repetitious. So I feel like I am calm for the most part as far as CPR calls go."
Yes, women like Kristin Fournier Calmly just told you she helps save lives every day. Like it's nothing.
So on this day, we pause to say thank you to all the men and women who are the first line of help. This request for all of us - talk to your kids.
"Sometimes we get kid callers and they are sometimes the best callers that we have," said dispatcher Stephanie Newmann. "Prepare them, have your address everywhere, go through what may be an emergency as opposed to a non-emergency."
FOX 2: "What's the hardest part of your job?"
"Sometimes, stress," she said. "I would say sometimes not being at home with your family on those holidays.
"I was telling my trainees remember it's not your emergency. Your job is to get them help as soon as possible."