Joe's Job: 911 Operator


by Joe Flanagan, 13News Now

Posted on June 4, 2014 at 3:05 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 4 at 5:55 PM

NEWPORT NEWS -- "Newport News 911. Where's your emergency?"

Spend an hour in the basement of the 9-1-1 emergency dispatch center in Newport News City Hall and you will get an earful. 

People, monitors and real-life emergencies fill the air.
"Sir.  What is that used for?  What was he doing that he ingested it.  What is it used for?" asked an emergency operator.

It takes a year to get up to speed. You have to take calls, process them on the computer and then know who to forward that message to for assistance. 

I trained with Stacey Ritter who has been here six years. She is a senior dispatcher and also serves as the community outreach coordinator. 

I asked Stacey what kind of person it takes to be a dispatcher.

"I believe it takes somebody that has compassion.  You have to want to help people in order to do this job.  If you don't want to help people you are not going to be able to survive down here.  This is a job that you have to have some type of empathy," said Ritter.

Carol Render oversees the operation.
"I have 22 years behind me and I just don't depend on me, I depend on my entire team. We all work together.  The concept here is teamwork being able to work together," said Render.