Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Can you provide any Assistance?

Some time back I gave a driver training classroom session for many of our drivers. As part of presenting useful information they could use, I went into some detail about the various tools available at the Dispatch Center. Being a rural county in non-flat terrain, finding locations can be a challenge at times and they have acquired and become adept at using various software tools to help all the agencies they serve. They have satellite photos, tax maps, GPS tracking, etc. I explained each of these and their uses to the class and encouraged them to make use of the dispatch center when they were in need of assistance. “Think of your Dispatcher as another person on your crew” I told them.
Just a few short days later we were dispatched to a medical emergency at oh-dark-thirty and it was my night on. “Podunk Rescue, respond to 25 Elm St, for an elderly female with abdominal pain”. Dutifully, we did just that, but when we arrived on Elm St. we could not locate number 25, but we could find most of the adjacent numbers. My driver was getting impatient and fidgety and wanted to start cruising around. I latched onto the teachable moment and said “Hey Bob, hang right here for a minute. Remember what I said the other night about Dispatch?” “Yeah!” he said, “Lemme try” and he picked up the mic and called Dispatch: “Control, this is Medic 88, we are having difficulty locating this residence, can you provide any assistance?” “Medic 88” Dispatch came back, then began to speak in that slow, clear, and purposeful tone you use for a small child that does not understand why they’ve done something wrong: “You are looking for………. NUMBER TWENTY FIVE……… ELM……. STREET”. My driver was non-plussed and keyed up “Understand control, we are out in the area and unable to locate that number, can you provide any ADDITIONAL assistance?” He looked at me to see if it sounded ok with no sarcasm and I nodded an approval with a little smile, glad that he kept his cool and sounded professional. We perked up when we heard the squelch break again, expecting the useful information we needed. The dispatcher had a one word answer: “No”. I was stunned and my driver was confused. While our heads were still trying to digest this single syllable rebuff, a different voice came on the air with what I had expected originally, “Medic 88, number 25 will be the third house on the right, it shares a driveway with number 23. Follow the long driveway up and past number 23 and you will find a yellow raised ranch about 100 feet further on.” I smiled at my driver and off we went. I found out a few days later that we had a new dispatcher that night who didn’t know what kind of ‘assistance’ we were looking for. I thought that was a new voice, but at that hour my brain don’t work so good. We had a good laugh over it later, but I would have paid good money to have a photo of my face when the dispatcher came back with her simple “No.” It must have been precious because my Driver still tells the story and giggles like a little girl when he comes to the part where he explains my expression in great detail.

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