A Day In The Life Of A Fayetteville 911 Dispatcher

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KFSM) — During an emergency you dial 911, but before law enforcement shows up you are connected to the voice behind the badge, a dispatcher.

We wanted to know what dispatchers go through every day in the often time-stressful job, so we're taking an inside look at the Fayetteville Police Department Central Dispatch Center

When Heather Gilbert goes to work every day she never knows what to expect.

Gilbert says things like severe weather or staffing can impact day-to-day activities. She says it can be stressful but keeping calm is key.

“Making sure that you stay cool under whatever the situation is that they present you is of utmost importance because you don’t ever want to be dragged in the emergency situation that they’re having and then you’re unable to assist them," Gilbert said.

Dispatchers take an average of 120, 911 calls per day. During severe weather events, that number can go up anywhere between 30-50 more calls.

“We always work together as a team. We’re never here in the room alone. I have another crew of dispatchers that work with me and we all carry the workload together," Gilbert said.

In light of what happened in Fort Smith with Debbie Stevens and dispatcher Donna Reneau, Fayetteville Dispatch Supervisor Tara Bryant says you can’t do this job without compassion.

“Every one of our dispatchers knows that just that type of tone with a caller is not tolerated. It’s not accepted by our department at all," Bryant said.

Calls are reviewed every month to make sure dispatchers are doing everything right.

“I love it. Sometimes it’s an adrenaline rush, sometimes something really exciting is going on. I love the people that I work with, the citizens of Fayetteville. There’s always something new every day," Gilbert said.

Many of the dispatchers at central dispatch have more than 10 years of experience.

They say it’s a career they chose because saving someone’s life is very rewarding.

The Fayetteville central dispatch center was the first in the state to receive Calea accreditation, a program that ensures a law enforcement agency is committed to continuous development and the professional delivery of public safety services.

A previous version of this story said the Fort Smith Dispatch Center was not Calea accredited. According to Aric Mitchell with FSPD, the center is accredited. 

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