Monday, June 11, 2012

Life in Dispatch

June has been a strange month so far. There is a saying here in Reno (NV), if you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes and it will change.

Yup, that is true. The first ten days of the month we've experienced highs from 57 F to 94F and lows from 39F to 62F. We've had hail, rain and heat in the same week! My poor garden has flourished and sputtered all within the same week. The tomatoes may never flower at this rate. Thankfully, the potatoes and broccoli seem to love this crazy weather.

Memorial Holiday weekend was busy, as I've mentioned prior. The Southern half of the State kept us running. Lake Mead, Mohave, and the Colorado River's were full of boaters and fisherman enjoying the good (and a little not-so-good) times. Up North, Lake Lahontan had it's share of boaters & fisherman. Lake Tahoe was lacking of the usual marine traffic due to the windy and occasional rain (and snow). The Eastern part of the State had some bothersome stretches of weather. Our brave wardens and contracted law enforcement officer (LEO's) didn't let the cold & wet prevent them from making stops. In fact, the activity became enough that we briefly discarded the CAD system when the radio traffic became overwhelming

Just how many repeater channels can one dispatcher answer at the same time? How many persons should one LEO request hot files check on from one stop? How many boats can a LEO pull over simultaneously? Finally, why does CAD AND the in-house files both crash at the same instant?

I don't know - kharma?

I'd be happy finding out why the Communications Center goes from feeling like it's 100F to 50 degrees in only 20 minutes. The thermostat is new. I have to layer my clothes when I come to work. Are the hot flashes returning? It's a cruel joke to play on a person already over that menopausal hill.

At least the security gate is fixed now. No more parking outside the gate and walking through the main building all the way to our little dispatch hidey hole. It was okay in the daylight hours, but at night, by myself, with no one but the quail & raccoons (and the occasional homeless person), it was a little nerve whacking. I carried my combo oc/mace just waiting to use it. My husband said my attitude alone probably would have scared the night people long before the gas hit their face. It's taken years of hard work to develop my persona. Don't knock it. The magic eight ball and voodoo dolls work wonders on rookie field units. Put a particular field ID number on the doll just before  come in to see dispatch and watch the color drain from their face. Priceless!!

Some support system I have at home.

Our new guy is clearing training after today and switches to new new shift. That means three of us here during the busies days & hours. It's been an entire year since we had that coverage. The field personnel will be happy. It 's been a rough year of limited personnel with lot's of overtime. Finally, we're getting back to normal staffing levels.

I'm working on the dispatch book project. The book has ten chapters, covering a short history of Public Safety, radios, what a dispatcher is, and many other topics.Thanks to those of you who have responded to the survey I posted. I'm still accepting completed surveys and would love MORE!! See my main blog page for information. Watch this blog for an announcement on when I will specifically need anecdotes and photographs. I don't anticipate that until the end of summer.

My co-workers and I believe this will be a busy fire season. Nevada already has had numerous wildfires. With a short and mild winter, the brush is very dry. On top of that, the winds seem to be stronger this year than the last couple. We encourage everyone to be careful with campfires and to check with local authorities BEFORE going off-roading. The property you save just might be your own.

Finally, heard from some old EMS co-workers on Facebook. I joined the group page and have been catching up and enjoying photographs posted on the wall. A few have been of my husband (darn, he was so young back then). Stories have been flying from all of us, so happy and others sad. It reminded me of the earlier years of my EMS career when photos of the old Cadillac ambulance were posted.

The very first ambulance I worked in was a suburban. There was just enough room for the gurney and me in the back. I was so happy when it was taken out of service and I was 'moved up' to the low-top van. After that, I was promoted to the Cadillac, and finally the high-top van. This was a company called McNulty in Los Angeles.

McNulty was a fly-by-night operation. We were paid until 1700 hours. The drivers took the rigs home. A call came in, the drivers were called first and their partners second. The clock started from the time we received the cal and ended after we cleared the hospital. Naturally, we took the extended route to the ER (anything to expand our clock time). We weren't supposed to do so, but we listened to scanners and 'happened to drive by' other companies' calls and 'stole' the runs. Hey, money was money and we were hungry. The Cities of Carson and Los Angles actually required us to buy, and have in our possession at all times, business licenses as ambulance attendants. I'm not kidding on this (I still have mine).

McNulty is where I learned to dispatch, as an overtime option and to fill in when the regular dispatcher went to lunch, on vacation, or was off sick. later on, it paid off when I needed a job but couldn't get one as an EMT but a dispatcher opening was available. It did lead to the Public Safety Dispatcher, which paid a whole lot more than EMS.

Back to the now...

I'm thinking about the evaluation I have to write. My mind is not at 100% today and so I'll put it off until tomorrow, when, hopefully, the migraine will be gone (thank you modern pharmacology). Later this week I'm going out with one of the wardens on a ride-along. Should be fun to see a different part of the State. Just crossing my fingers the weather will be decent out in his district. I'm supposed to wear my roughing clothes, which to me means BDU's, short sleeved shirt over a long-sleeved and hard-soled boots. He has a good sense of humor. so I'm hoping he won't put me through the wringer too badly. If he does, to quote Chaucer in "The Knight's Tale" I shall crucify you in the written word.

Dispatchers don't get mad, they get even.


Stay safe out there!

for some good laughs, read Kelly Grayson's blog:

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