I have been in public safety since 2008, first as an EMT doing interfacility and critical care transports along with emergency work on the side. I transitioned into dispatching for a private interfacility ambulance company in 2015. In 2018 I moved to dispatching for the fire department which required state certification. I have been here ever since!

We are a secondary PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point) handling fire and EMS emergencies. Police dispatch is handled by the primary PSAP. This means that a 911 call initially goes to the police dispatcher and is transferred to the fire department for processing if it a fire or medical emergency.

For proof I’ve included screen shots of licensure verification along with a picture of my work ID, all with personally identifying information blocked out.

https://ibb.co/cczH452 https://ibb.co/GV3Q8sd https://ibb.co/fkJ75z9

Comments: 306 • Responses: 71  • Date: 

Fizter111 karma

Do you work 10 or 12 hour shifts? Thank you for what you do.

CallMeMaybe911123 karma

Hey thanks! 12 hour shifts but they’re looking at the feasibility of doing 24 hour rotations, it’s already done at a few departments.

ResilientBiscuit79 karma

Do they expect you to stay awake for 24 hours? Or do you just sleep and then get woken up when a call comes in?

It seems like it would make people prone to errors if they had to stay awake for 24 hours...

CallMeMaybe91153 karma

For the field, they sleep between calls after 5pm and have station duties and training before then.

For dispatch, they get 4 hour breaks to nap with the caveat they can be pulled back at any time if needed. It’s a new concept but the departments that do it love it.

I’d love to work 2 shifts a week and still be full time, haha.

FortyPercentMeme76 karma

How can I make your job easier? I want to be as helpful as possible. Should I be saying certain things when I call 911? When you pull up in the ambulance, should I just stay out of your way?

CallMeMaybe911160 karma

Know where you’re located and answer the questions. A lot of times people fight us on our questioning and make the call longer than it would be if they had just answered.

For EMS, if you can clear a path from the door to the patient, that’d be excellent but don’t hurt yourself moving furniture. Have a med list or meds together and pets put away if you’re at home. Don’t answer for the patient unless they are incapacitated.

wile_e_slacker14 karma

I recently had to call 911 for my mother and the dispatcher's questions and calm professionalism gave me something to focus on (other than the situation).

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for what you do. I know I'm not strong enough to do it.

P.S. The EMTs were amazing too.

CallMeMaybe9113 karma

I’m so glad you had a good experience! Sometimes my patient isn’t the patient but the caller.

rex2k1064 karma

How different were the calls during the first months of lockdown?

CallMeMaybe91171 karma

We had to do a screening on everyone for symptoms of Covid and our people had to wear N95s.

People stopped calling as much, actually because no one wanted to go to the hospital but it took forever for our rescues to clear hospitals which thinned out coverage for the county and our response times suffered. They would hold the wall at a hospital anywhere from 2-3 hours for each call because the hospitals were overtaxed and there was simply not enough beds and not enough staff to offload them. Meanwhile they can’t respond to calls so our unit saturation would dip and had to send available rescues from further away.

We also got a lot of people calling us from the ER parking lot to go to another hospital because they were tired of waiting at the one they were at. We get those occasionally but not like we did during the heavy days of Covid.

We also had to wear N95s at our desk for social distancing and we were split between our main site and back up site so we never directly interacted with another shift. (Day shift at main site, night shift at back up site) We were all on call 24/7 and any PTO had to be approved by higher ups, we had to tell them why we needed off and were not allowed to travel. If you were caught traveling you were fired. They were afraid of entire shifts getting sick at one time.

Vroomped46 karma

Do you've a favorite non-emergency/mild-emergency caller?

For example, my 85yo aunt had the strength to hold her self up but not lift. So, her falls were very slow sits. None the less she can't sit on the floor all day. So, on occasion that we couldn't be there she has had to call dispatch and allegedly is adored.

CallMeMaybe911108 karma

I love old people who are just pleasant and funny. They make jokes like “Are you injured?” “Yeah, right in my pride.” “How did you fall?” “Gravity.”

SpiralVortex37 karma

This has always been a completely random fear of mine - What if you call 911 and when asked for a location you don’t know where you are?

Like say you got kidnapped and manage to escape or something but you’ve got no track of your bearings.

Hell even simpler just being in an area you don’t know and you don’t have the time/access to find some kind of major landmark identifier.

Is it true you can track to a phones location to get help to the correct location? If not, what happens?

CallMeMaybe91172 karma

For my department we get two types of cell phone map plots depending on the type of phone you’re using. Older phones only give us the nearest cell tower but newer phones will plot in a narrower general location so we can start to narrow it down.

We also have a program called CLQ that accesses your phones data and sends coordinates to our CAD or RapidSOS that uses the same GPS tech as Uber. These programs work sometimes.

Other than that we question you about your location, where were you coming from? Where were you traveling? Do you see anything around you like a billboard or water tower? What color house are you by? Do you remember the last cross street you passed? How long ago? What does your phone map application say your location is?

We will send law enforcement out to help us search because our fire trucks and rescues can’t whip around like they do. If you’re not visible from the road, I’ll ask the caller to yell and make noise to help with location.

If you’re in an unfamiliar home, do you have a piece of mail with the address? Are there numbers on the door? Can you ask a neighbor? What color cars are in the driveway? What color is your house/door/roof?

This is my department specific, not all departments utilize E911 and get map plots or Rapid/CLQ

Mdbutnomd34 karma

Do you mind people calling 911 to be connected to highway patrol to report dangerous/out of control driving? I never knew what the protocol was on that..

CallMeMaybe91141 karma

Nope. Call away, we are here to help : ) They can probably provide you with the non emergency number so next time you can call direct.

Willenation30 karma

Can you walk through the sort of standard day-to-day stuff that's totally normal to you? Where is your office located (not necessarily the address but is it urban/rural/in an office park/near a fire station)? How many people work in it? What's on your desk? What's the first thing you do when you arrive in the morning? What are you doing on your computer as people give you information over the phone?

From an outside perspective, it's such an important, high-pressure job - I'm curious what it's like from your perspective as the thing that you wake up and do every day for work.

CallMeMaybe91184 karma

Okay, let me do this question by question.

1) I am currently on day shift. There’s not really a normal day. A standard day to day is arriving to work and getting a passdown from the night shift person I’m relieving including any big or ongoing events along with venting and bitching. I can be assigned to one of three positions, phones, dispatch or radios. I plug in my headset regardless of position in case I have to pick up to assist really quickly.

I do a morning checklist where we check and test all our equipment and then settle in for a 12 hour shift. On phones, we can get a ton of mundane calls or some high pressure emergency ones. Some days I work 5 cardiac arrests and some days it’s all chronic coughs and smoke detector requests. Cardiac arrests actually are some of the easiest calls if you can get control of the situation because no matter what you do, you can’t make it worse. The worst calls are when the caller is too incoherent and hysterical so you don’t know what you’re sending your crews into or how to help, the feeling of helplessness is pretty intense.

If I’m on radios I assist and track units all day, which can be tedious and exhausting because it’s constant with no down time. If I’m on dispatch I tell people where to go and am in charge of keeping my county covered adequately with resources. The hardest part about radios is commands, which are calls and situations that carry a high risk to our responders and require a dedicated radio operator, these are things like house fires, traffic accidents with entrapment, water rescues. We have been getting a lot of house fires caused by lightning strikes lately and a lot of gas leaks because people don’t call before they dig.

I have an hour break where I usually take a nap towards the end of my shift. Sometimes it’s too busy to take a break. Then we do passdown to the oncoming shift.

2) The center I work at is located in a police station and we are physically next to the room where the police dispatchers are. Other places I’ve visited have been located in regular office buildings. There’s talk of moving our back up center into a fire station but it’s currently located in an office park.

3) We have 7 people on each shift at minimum but lately we’ve had 9 or 10.

4) my desk has 9 monitors, two sets of speakers, a radio console and a phone with location technology that gives us an “ALI” or automatic location information when we get a 911 call. ALIs can be accurate or totally off. We have a few types of map plots, a phase 1 which is most older phones that will only give us the nearest cell tower, phase 2 which gives us a general location but it can be a few houses or streets off, a VOIP which is voice over IP phones and they give us the registered address which people forget to update when they move or landlines which give us the direct address.

I also have my personal PC where I have an additional location program called RapidSOS that uses GPS technology similar to Uber from your phone and tends to be more accurate but it doesn’t always work. I also have protocols up and some sites from our SharePoint that assist me at work plus whatever I’m surfing on the internet at the time.

Misc stuff on my desk right now is a pen and scrap paper, my water bottle, my headset and headphones and a melting smoothie lol.

5) the first thing I do is fill up my water bottle because even though we are sitting for 12 hours it’s been shown dispatcher are chronically dehydrated and that has had an impact on morale. Plus my mouth gets dry from talking a lot and I can’t always get up when I want too so I make sure I have water. At my desk, I log into my phone and any program I’ll need for the day, plug my headset into the radio console and sign into CAD.

6) entering their address into our CAD, going through our standard questions, typing notes for the responders. Sometimes a call requires a lot of back and forth behind the scenes, particularly if it’s a command level or the address is difficult or we can’t figure out what’s going on. I’m quick with the mute button so I keep that off the recorded line.

But often my fellow operators are asking me for specific information like description, where they’re located at the address, if there are weapons, etc. If I repeat what you tell me 9 times out of 10 it’s because I want someone to hear me on our side. “oh, you said he had a gun?” Or “Okay, you said he’s hiding behind the bush to the right of the swings wearing a hula skirt?” Or “you said your mom is trapped in her bedroom where the fire is?”

Wzup7 karma

For VOIP, how does call routing work? If they have an old address registered from a different State, would their 911 call get routed to a center in the other state?

CallMeMaybe91110 karma

Yes! This is why it’s very important to keep your address up to date with theVOIP provider.

Wzup3 karma

What happens then? Are you able to transfer them to a local center just with a zip code, or how does that work?

CallMeMaybe9116 karma

I’ve only had this once when I was brand new. I didn’t understand why the address wasn’t validating, they got frustrated and hung up. When I realized what happened, I looked up the number for the correct center, called them and relayed the address and phone number.

CarmichaelD26 karma

What is the most rip roaring funny call that you have been on?

CallMeMaybe91186 karma

A guy tripping balls who said he cut off his girlfriends clit and was wondering if they could replace it with a lemur clit like how they use pig valves for heart surgeries.

No clits were harmed during the call.

megabass71325 karma

Are you paid a fair wage? Where I'm at they pay terrible.

CallMeMaybe91134 karma

EMS pay is atrocious but dispatchers get paid more. With overtime, I live pretty comfortably. I think I should get paid a little more but I’m not feeling cheated when I see my paycheck.

drbroccoli007 karma

Love the username and without knowing any details I agree, you should be paid more! You provide a lifesaving service to people who are possibly in their darkest moments. Not a job to be taken lightly. Thank you.

CallMeMaybe9112 karma

Thank you 🥰

Slave3511 karma

And it's literally INSANE that it hasn't yet been asked IN THIS ENTIRE THREAD but, HOW MUCH?

CallMeMaybe91127 karma

As an EMT I made $12 an hour when I left the road. As a dispatcher I make just above $20/hr

Hammerstyle16 karma

I'm a Canadian medic in a major city, you couldn't pay me to do this job for less than 40$/h CAD. $12 USD is $16 Canadian, crazy to me anyone would actually do this job for that.

CallMeMaybe91116 karma

There are people who do it for free.

trizzo030922 karma

What's something you've witnessed in person that you'd consider the most disturbing?

CallMeMaybe91163 karma

How cruel people can be. I transported a homeless man who was minding his business, sleeping on the sidewalk and was intentionally set on fire. He survived and was a very sweet person who wasn’t bothering anyone. He just had some uncontrolled mental health issues that made it difficult for him to function in society. I lost track of him when he got transferred to a subacute hospital in a different part of the state.

Maleficent-Number-1021 karma

Have calls often traumatised you? Do workers develop post dramatic stress?

CallMeMaybe91185 karma

Absolutely. I’m actually talking to my therapist about getting evaluated for PTSD. It isn’t always panic attacks in crowded places and nightmares. It is irrational anxiety or changing your behavior based on experiences. It’s listlessness and insomnia and hypervigilance.

I have an intense fear of fire but it’s gotten worse since I’ve started dispatching for the fire department. I’m crazy vigilant about smoke detectors, sleeping with the door closed and making sure each room has a means of egress. I made my landlord replace our windows because they were the slated louvre windows which would hard to be escape from. I feel intense anxiety during thunderstorms and fireworks that my house is going to get struck or an ember is going to land on my roof and start a fire. I worry about my pets in fire. I used to check on my housemates to make sure they’re still breathing when I got home after nightshift. If my mom doesn’t answer my texts I start to get anxious, I used to send the police to check on her until I got her to install cameras so I can check if she’s fallen or something.

I don’t think PTSD is the right word for it for me but my therapist wants me to get evaluated to be sure

IsThisNameGood5 karma

NYC EMT here. I too check on my family when leaving for work in the morning. Gotta make sure mom is still breathing.

CallMeMaybe9113 karma

Glad to know I’m not alone in this : )

ItsMummyTime3 karma

I'm a mortician, and it's led to some new fears for me.

Some are straightforward, like seeing careless motorcycle drivers.

I get extremely anxious when I see kids playing on ATVs (pretty common around my state). I've had 4 cases of ATV accident related deaths. 3 of which were minors. 1 of which was a toddler.

The one that's really stuck with me is the elderly man whose wife passed away in her sleep. He said they would hold hands while they slept. He got up to use the restroom. When he came back, he held her hand and it was cold.

Now I catch myself checking my spouse in the middle of the night to make sure they're still breathing.

I also start thinking my elderly neighbor is dead in her home if her trash bins stay out too long.

CallMeMaybe9112 karma

Glad to know I’m not alone in this lol

dimomonster20 karma

I work in the rehabilitative health care field and I’ve seen a fair share of doctors treating my patients disrespectfully once they know they are battling addiction. I also recently read a statistic that doctors spend about 30% less time on average when treating patients with addiction issues - which coincides with the same amount of time doctors spend with overweight patients as well. I believe that the general consensus on these issues is that “the person did this to themselves” and on some level that impacts their level of treatment.

My question is this - when you encounter someone with a mental health or substance abuse crisis, do you feel they are treated differently than other patients? If so, how would you propose changing this system?

CallMeMaybe91134 karma

They are and I hate it.

I have seen them treated rudely over the phone, their complaints dismissed and I’ve seen coworkers withhold care and police catch an attitude because someone is an addict. I’ve heard coworkers say we shouldn’t use resources on repeated overdoses.

We can only change it through education and weeding out those who refuse to be educated or are too burnt out to care.

mandoo8618 karma

Do the amount or types of calls differ each season?

CallMeMaybe91145 karma

During the summer months we get a lot of tourists which ups our call volume and a lot of heat related calls for medical and for fire/rescue we get a lot storm related calls like lightning strikes, brush fires, mechanical alarms from the power fluctuations, and downed wires plus summer fun stuff like water rescue or trail rescues.

During winter we get a lot of smoke odor in structures when people turn on their heaters for the first time and burn all the dust off the coils, a lot of burns from people being dumb with fireplaces and pits and around Christmas and thanksgiving we get a lot of psychs, assaults, suicides and overdoses.

During any weather extreme we get a lot of homeless people with misc complaints looking to go to the hospital for a break from the heat/cold/rain.

Asterix_my_boy14 karma

Do you get any sort of psychological support or counselling provided by your work?

CallMeMaybe91120 karma

We have a critical incident stress management team for support after bad incidents plus they are self funded for insurance and copays for therapy and mental healthcare are free.

Sad_Ad12 karma

If you suddenly became a whale, what would you do?

(Also, thanks for your work :) )

CallMeMaybe91151 karma

I’d join White Gladis’ gang and attack the rich.

Butt-Toucher6910 karma

What is the coolest thing that has been stuck in someone's butt that you have either seen or heard of?

CallMeMaybe91124 karma

A bottle of lube and he said he could feel it opening and closing. They always “fall” on it, lmao.

lwhittt10 karma

What’s your average shift look like?

I imagine some call-ins tend to stick with you. Do any calls stand out in your mind as especially impactful?

CallMeMaybe91171 karma

I have several calls I remember or think about often. Most often it’s certain aspects of them.

I was training someone and the person they were talking to stopped talking and died. We got to hear them go from alert and struggling to breathe to agonal respirations which was really neat but also sad.

I was on the phone for 20 minutes with a woman who was hiding from her husband in the garage after he shot his ex wife, most vividly how she cried for her dog who was in the house with her husband and she was worried he was going to hurt him.

I remember my first suicide, a man came home and found his wife hanging in their home. He screamed so incoherently I couldn’t get his address or give him directions on how to try and help her. Once paramedics got there I just froze and couldn’t hang up the phone, I listened to the first round of CPR.

I remember a lady I stayed on the phone with after she’d fallen and she was alone and how much she thanked me.

I remember the sound of a baby crying after removing the umbilical cord from around its neck.

I remember holding the hand of a teenager who had tried to commit suicide to escape a shitty home life but was scared of the hospital.

Sometimes it’s the smallest parts that impact you the most.

DJ_Spark_Shot10 karma

I don't have any professional training, but I carry a trauma kit around 24/7: (sutures, hemos, scalpel, sponges, clot aid, Israeli Bandages, roll splints, emergency airways, etc). This has (unfortunately) been useful a few times.

Are there any commonly available first aid or trauma products you believe do more harm than good?

Are there any you would recommend people include more often?

What are you short on that a bystander could supply?

CallMeMaybe91113 karma

I recommend carrying gloves. You don’t wanna get other peoples body fluids on you. Tourniquets should only be applied by someone who knows what they’re doing and they need to have the time applied written on them

I wouldn’t use bystander supplies, personally. The biggest help a bystander can do is make sure you stay back and out of the road and keep other people out too.

CWMcCallGirl9 karma

Oh! Actually a question I needed answered the other day. So I work in a fab shop and we had a little safety meeting the other day. The topic was emergency first aid. The subject of uncontrollable bleeding came up, they said under no circumstances should we use a tourniquet. Are they just obsolete or something now?

CallMeMaybe91115 karma

Tourniquets can cause tissue damage if you don’t know what you’re doing. Damaged tissue releases myoglobin into the blood stream, this is called rhabdomyolysis and can be life threatening.

It’s best to use direct pressure and elevate the limb above the heart. Once you have the pressure down, don’t let up. If direct pressure isn’t possible there are pressure points you can use but that’s getting into the weeds.

thisisnotdan17 karma

Replying to OP in case I'm wrong (I'm an EMT too), but the latest training I received actually says tourniquets are back on the menu. I was taught in the Boy Scouts never to use a tourniquet, but my EMT trainer said that recent studies conducted on military battlefields have shown that tissue damage from tourniquets doesn't set in as quickly as once thought.

The most important thing when tying a tourniquet is to note the time it was applied. Write it right on the tourniquet, or else on the skin of the injured person near the site. Basically, make sure that the doctors in the ER will know exactly when this thing was applied, as the potential for tissue damage does change the way they might treat the patient.

Also, obviously tourniquets are a last resort to use when direct pressure fails, but they are advisable in particularly bad situations.

CallMeMaybe9117 karma

They’re making a comeback but again, you shouldn’t put one on if you don’t know what you’re doing.

UltraeVires4 karma

Die from catastrophic bleeding or have some tissue damage.

An easy answer, which is why it's being encouraged again.

CallMeMaybe9112 karma

Or survive the bleeding and die a day later of rhabdo 🤷‍♀️

starkformachines8 karma

Why does 911 ask for your name when you're reporting something you're not involved in? (garbage on road, major car accident, random fire, etc)?

CallMeMaybe91118 karma

Documentation. Names of 911 callers are protected information, we can’t give out your name but someone may want to follow up with you for investigative purposes.

TallahasseWaffleHous8 karma

What do you make of the stories of dispatchers who refuse to send help when the caller uses a lot of profanity, or sounds like a hoax call?

CallMeMaybe91149 karma

I get so so so angry. There is a lot of burnout in dispatching and I hate it. It is an honor and a privilege to serve my community and to be trusted to help them in an emergency.

People take it personally when callers are short or rude with them or they get annoyed because they don’t see it as an emergency. People call usually on one of the worst days of their life or because they simply don’t have the resources to deal with their problem and don’t know what to do. They’re scared, frustrated, in pain, feel helpless etc. and may be reacting out of character.

It’s my departments policy that if you call we are going. I’m glad for that because it isn’t up to us to withhold help or to judge the caller.

scirvexz8 karma

Do any of your coworkers speaks another language other than English?

CallMeMaybe91116 karma

My coworkers do but they aren’t allowed to on 911 calls. To remove liability we use a translator service if a caller doesn’t speak English.

NinjaBullets6 karma

Do you have a union? If so are they fighting for higher wages? I heard EMTs make very little pay for the amount and importance of work they actually do. Also thank you for what you do!

CallMeMaybe91112 karma

No, the firefighters have a union though. We can’t talk about unions without someone having a heart attack lol.

As a dispatcher I get paid almost a living wage. For EMTs and Paramedics, unfortunately it’s hard to fight for higher wages when there’s always someone willing to do it for less. EMT and Paramedic schools are constantly churning out new grads so it’s over saturating a field that is harder and harder to get into. Plus in some areas you have volunteers who do it for free.

It is definitely a profession that deserves more but I don’t see it ever being paid what it’s worth.

jonnymoon53 karma

Give IAEP a call. They did us good.

CallMeMaybe9114 karma

Glad to hear that!

VirtualRy6 karma

If I see a car accident in front of me and one party involved in the accident tries to leave with their car, would you advise I give chase and calling 911 knowing that no one got their license plate number?

CallMeMaybe91116 karma

Not at all. That’s dangerous and people are unpredictable. Just stay and give as much information as you have, including the direction the car went.

shemnon6 karma

Are your personal conversations with co-workers while on shift subject to being recorded/reviewed and/or publicly disclosed? Or is that just limited to if you use certain equipment to handle these conversations?

CallMeMaybe91112 karma

What I’ve been told is that anything we say in department email or on our messaging service is recorded and can be pulled at any time. If there is an investigation for some reason they can pull our computer history and personal phone records at the time of the incident. Our room isn’t recorded though. 911 calls are public information as long as all identifying info of the caller is redacted and sometimes you can hear people chatting in the background so that could be used.

Onlyhereforthelaughs6 karma

What percentage would you say are dumb/crank calls? I always see posts compiling them, where people call 911 because McDonald's ran out of nuggets or something, but I was curious what the actual percentage would be.

I don't think I've ever called 911 myself, I've only ever called the Non-Emergency number. Stuff like plumes of smoke on the horizon, that kind of thing.

CallMeMaybe9119 karma

On average people call 911 only twice in their life. We have had some swatting calls and frequently get calls that are better handled by the HOA or a general practitioner but not many prank calls by themselves. Only one obvious prank comes to mind.

billjoman5 karma

I live/work in West Oakland on a busy corner. I call 911 at least 4 times a month for crimes, traffic accidents and also for highway debris wherever I'm driving. I think of myself as a citizen with a capital "C". Dispatchers always tell me they wish more people would be engaged and proactive without putting themselves in harm's way.

CallMeMaybe9112 karma

I definitely appreciate when someone calls 911 for stuff like that. It can cause accidents and we can’t send someone to mitigate the hazard if we don’t know about it. We’re all a community and we need to look out for each other.

JayHolla6 karma

Why do you tell the people that call to bring their medications with them to the hospital? When EMS shows up they say to leave them home.

CallMeMaybe9116 karma

So the paramedics can see them/document if they need to. A list of medications is fine.

AARiain5 karma

How do you feel about the phrase "it's quiet today"?

CallMeMaybe91120 karma

I hope you lose your phone charger, you monster.

ItsMummyTime2 karma


CallMeMaybe9112 karma

Nope. We average 300-400 calls a day.

Forever_Overthinking5 karma

What is your favorite color?

CallMeMaybe91113 karma


tealfan5 karma

Looks like I missed out, but I'll put this here anyway. Does the TV show "911" get it right? Or maybe parts of the movie "Ambulance"?

CallMeMaybe9119 karma

Not at all lol. My family won’t watch any fire or medical based show with me because I ruin it.

lotzasunshine3 karma

How do you feel about "Scrubs"?

CallMeMaybe9112 karma

I’ve never seen it 😅

kyleclements5 karma

How do dispatchers in big cities handle dealing with multiple languages?

Even if everyone is fluent in 2-3 languages, how do you know who to forward a call to when it's one you don't recognize?

CallMeMaybe9115 karma

Trial and error, honestly. If it sounds like an Asian language I’ll pick an Asian language interpreter and hope if it isn’t their specific language they can tell me what it is, for example.

Hungry-panda234 karma

Does the job take a toll on your mental health? If yes, how do you deal with it and prevent yourself from burning out?

CallMeMaybe91119 karma

Everyone knows EMTs and Paramedics can get PTSD but so can dispatchers. We are understudied and underrepresented for the mental health impact but burnout and suicide is an epidemic among ALL components of public safety, including us.

I found a therapist who specializes in health care providers so she understands the toll of shift work and dealing with other people’s emergencies can have on a person. I am diligent about keeping my depression and anxiety disorder in check with medication and healthy coping mechanisms I’ve worked really hard to learn.

When I get home I go into my bedroom and decompress for about 30 minutes before I’m ready to interact with my family and housemates. I don’t talk about calls with them and if I ask them to change the channel when they’re watching the news, they do so.

Natujr4 karma

What's your favorite kind of pizza?

CallMeMaybe91110 karma

Buffalo chicken pizza dipped in ranch 🤤

doodledumplingTA4 karma

I have some questions, if you are opening to answering some of them :)

  1. Our dispatch burnout rates are higher than our EMT/medics, which are already pretty high. What kinds of things do you think an org can do to help mitigate?

  2. Being on the dispatch side, do you ever wish you’d get outcomes / closure on the patients you’re on the phone with?

  3. Have you seen your EMS improving since COVID? We are still struggling with wait times and response times, it seems like it’s still busier than before COVID despite moving past the COVID peak, and a lot of good people left the field in the past couple years that I think is hard to replace too

  4. How do you respond to medical alarm calls where there isn’t any information?

Thanks for your work and this AMA!

CallMeMaybe9115 karma

  1. Recognition and support are HUGE. They bring satisfaction and gratitude to an often thankless job and make the operators feel recognized and appreciated. We include dispatchers on life saving awards and our PIOs have us on Facebook and Instagram all the time for visibility. Also, weeding out negative operators who drag down morale while offering mental health services like making sure dispatch is included in debriefing or CISM.

  2. yeah, all the time. Even if it’s bad, I want closure. It is better knowing my patient died before I see the GoFundMes pop up.

  3. Our call volume is only increasing since Covid but it’s created some good programs, it’s increased our community paramedicine program for one and we’ve modified protocols to handle the strain that we can still implement today for smoother operations.

  4. We respond to the address, do a premise history search for any historical information like gate codes, names, alternate phone numbers etc. if they have reason to believe the medical alarm is legitimate they’ll force entry.

KindeTrollinya3 karma

When you dispatch a call, can you see if there are previous calls to the same number/address? Like repeated DV?

CallMeMaybe9113 karma

Yeah, we also flag addresses with a history of violence or aggression so we’ll know as soon as the address validates.

ebolaRETURNS3 karma

what's the best way to summon an ambulance for a medical emergency without police, that will not cause problems for EMTs?

CallMeMaybe9114 karma

Just call. For my department the police only respond if they need to and if you’re being shady with information it puts us on our guard and we’ll send police to keep our responders safe. Even if you call the direct non emergency line and give us a reason to believe we need police, we send them. They are there to keep everyone safe.

If drugs are involved, check state laws. In mine you can’t be arrested for drugs found if you are calling for medical care for yourself or some with you.

morphogenesis283 karma

How do you perceive day programs and group homes for adults with disabilities who may call 911 often over things the police may not consider an emergency? For example in NJ we have Danielle's Law that states caretakers must call 911 in any potentially life threatening emergency. Because of the potential to incur large fines and the possibility of losing your job staff will call 911 for things that not everyone would agree is an emergency. ??????

CallMeMaybe91116 karma

Things that aren’t emergencies can become emergencies if they’re not taken care of properly. If it’s their policy, I don’t mind. It’s what I’m here for.

CIAMom4202 karma

I have something stuck in my butt right now that i can’t get out. What do I do?

CallMeMaybe9115 karma


ozzmosis2 karma


CallMeMaybe9114 karma

They do a full body assessment in the hospital and will look for things like that. For EMS there’s no reason to check for contacts because they won’t impact care or treatment.

Commercial_Star72162 karma

How often do you have to put people on hold on 911?

CallMeMaybe9116 karma

Almost never. I can emergency disconnect if the phones are ringing and the patient I’m with his awake and breathing. I essentially tell them I have to take another call, call back if anything gets worse for further instructions

SchleppyJ42 karma

What do you do on your “downtime” on shifts, when not doing checklists or duties?

CallMeMaybe9113 karma

I work on side projects, I’m writing training documents currently. I’ll also shop on Amazon, watch TV or browse Reddit lol.

PolybiusChampion2 karma

What’ the most embarrassing (for the caller) call you’ve either taken or arrived at the scene of?

CallMeMaybe9113 karma

A guy who tried to make it to the bathroom, didn’t and then slipped in his diarrhea. And then slipped again when he tried to get up and broke his hip.

ShantiBlossom2 karma

Can you text 911? What happens if you call 911 but you’re unable to speak (asthma attack, kidnapped ect)? Would you be mad if I called for a panic attack? Do you actually check iPhones medical ID?

CallMeMaybe9112 karma

Medical ID wasn’t a thing when I was on the road but if RapidSOS is working it displays that info when you call and we can relay it to the crews.

My area does have text to 911 but not every center does. If it’s an open line and no one’s speaking, at least a single unit gets sent with the police. Panic attacks are medical complaints! It’s okay to call if you need someone. We are here to help you. It’s not on me to decide if what you are experiencing is a true emergency, if feels like an emergency to you and that’s enough.

vortex10821 karma

What CAD do you use? If it’s Spillman how much do you hate it?

CallMeMaybe9111 karma

It’s central square and I hate it soooo much.

RyantheMISguy1 karma

I too work in the industry, what CAD do you use?

CallMeMaybe9111 karma

Central square

aR3alCoo1Kat1 karma

Is there a special code for a cat stuck in a tree?

CallMeMaybe9112 karma

Nope and we don’t respond to those, contrary to popular belief!

Original-Cinikal1 karma

What does liquorice taste like?

CallMeMaybe9111 karma


campeau1601 karma

Why don’t you become a paramedic?

CallMeMaybe9112 karma

I make more money as a dispatcher and I get to go home on time every day.

clayoban1 karma

What is the % of calls between kids playing with the phone, pocket dials, old people asking for random things, people calling about minor complaints and actual emergencies?

Thank you for doing your job, it's not easy to be the calm voice on the line of human panic.

CallMeMaybe9112 karma

Thanks : )

Because we are a secondary PSAP we don’t get a lot of misdials. Minor complaints are frequent but they can turn into emergencies too!

KittyJun0 karma

Please feel free of course to not answer this if you don't feel comfortable, I know calls can be horrible behind the mic and in the field: What is the worst call that you have answered and/or attended that has stuck with you since the beginning of your career?

CallMeMaybe9112 karma

On the dispatch side - two missing toddlers who wandered off and were found in a lake behind their house

On the EMT side - A guy who was set on fire while he was sleeping on the sidewalk. I will literally never forget how sweet he was despite what had been done to him.

Common_Deal2817-1 karma


CallMeMaybe9111 karma

Inconsolable screaming of a guy who found his wife hanging

JohnnyJukey-1 karma

Is Marijuana, Cannabis, in use Professionally? and How?

CallMeMaybe9113 karma

We are not allowed per department policy and will get fired.

Sexcercise-2 karma

I don't see it here. Gonna go for it.

Have you ever done anything NSFW inside the ambulance?

CallMeMaybe91111 karma

No, they’re disgusting. I know a couple people who had a reputation for it. The most memorable and notorious earned nicknames, one was Vagal Girl because she was rumored vagaled out during anal sex in the back of the truck and one was the Company Mattress. Only women got nicknames but men were just as bad. 🤷‍♀️

Sexcercise2 karma


Thank you for your response and honesty!

CallMeMaybe9114 karma

When you stimulate your vagal nerve it slows your heart down. You can stimulate it so much you pass out or die. It can be stimulated through anal sex but most commonly by bearing down which is why you get people who have heart attacks and die on the toilet.

Fit_Cheesecake_4000-11 karma


CallMeMaybe9119 karma

I don’t understand this question : )