MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It can often be a thankless job but it’s a critical job. Public safety dispatchers and call takers are the people you will rely on, if you have emergency.
Miami-Dade County has a new state-of-the-art 911 call center which officials showed off during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, a week aimed at honoring the work of our public safety call takers and dispatchers.
Those who work in the call center say their job is very important but often thankless and misunderstood.
In emergency situations, when every second counts, the professionals on the other side of your 911 calls are there around the clock, whether it is a problem with a python, a plane crash or a shooting.
“My job is to take incoming 911 calls and disseminate the priority of the calls,” said Miami-Dade Police Complaint Officer Ali Riaz.
As a complaint officer, or call taker, Riaz’s main tasks include assessing and prioritizing the situation and keeping the caller calm, which he said can be challenging when he needs vital information.
“I know a lot of times they think we are just asking questions and it’s a waste of time but that is not the case,” according to Riaz.
Riaz said the majority of times while asking questions, help is already on the way. But when the help isn’t quite there yet, he’s able to walk them through medical procedures for injuries, or pregnancy.
“I’ve [helped] deliver two babies in my 5 years here,” Riaz proudly boasted.
Call takers, like Ariaz, are the first line of help.
They sit on one side of the call center and then pass the vital information they’ve collected along to dispatchers who then make sure police officers, fire rescue units and/or animal control units are quickly sent to the right place.
“If there was a delay in me dispatching a call that maybe I didn’t think it was that important, it could be life or death, or if I don’t dispatch enough officers to a call it could be a matter of that officer’s safety,” said Miami-Dade Police Dispatcher Angel Wilson.
The 911 call center both Ariaz and Wilson work in is the largest in the state of Florida. Just last year it took in 2.2 million calls, an average of 6,000 per day.
The majority of those calls were in Spanish, but CBS4 News is told thanks to a contract with a private interpreting service, they are able to take calls in 27 different languages.