Sunday, November 9, 2008
© Copyright 2013
Gwinnett Daily Post
If you call 911 in Gwinnett, chances are your emergency is coming under the auspices of Angie Conley, who oversees the county's bustling 911 Center. Its roughly 100 dispatchers handled more than a half-million emergency calls last year alone. In here, lunch breaks are never guaranteed.
On phone loathing: I've never been a person to talk on the phone a lot. I'm not like your average female. I don't like talking on the phone.
On dispatcher blues: Some of the calls we take are absolutely tragic. I took one once from a woman who was a diabetic. She pretty much died on the telephone while the ambulance was arriving. You hear those things.
On the occasionally zany 911 call: We had some frequent flyers, so to speak ... people that would call regularly that weren't in their full faculties. The crazy calls. We had a lady one time who was convinced people were living in her attic and were spraying things at her through her vent at night while she slept. I've had reports of aliens stealing tomatoes out of a lady's yard.
On multi-cultural callers: We use Language Line, a service through AT&T. You'd be amazed at some of the languages. We've had Persian, some versions of Hindu, Haitian, Mandarin Chinese - we get lots.
On the old-school way: Back in the old days, you wrote everything out by hand on a log card. We had a conveyor belt that ran it up to dispatchers, and they read it off to officers on the radio. That (belt) was notorious for breaking down. So we'd have rulers to smack the cards and shoot them to the front.
On occupational loose-ends: The officers or paramedics get to see the end of the situation. We don't. We only know the beginning. We might start CPR, then the paramedics get there, and we might never know whether they lived or died. You don't get much closure on your calls.
- As told to