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Sunday, September 16, 2018



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Why I do what I do

Why I do what I do

In 1985 the fire district was hiring four fulltime dispatchers to start their own dispatching service for their 8 volunteer fire departments.

Having no prior training, I applied and was hired for one of the positions. Thirty-one years later with too many training hours and experience to list, I am still here.

People ask me why I chose dispatching as a career. The truth is Dispatching chose me. Often I hear, “I could never do what you do” and I believe it.

I have trained many people that tried to take on dispatching, and even after training, could not grasp the skills and concept of emergency dispatching. This type of work is not for everyone. You really have to develop, incorporate, and work on physical and mental skills everyday not only to do this job but to be able to stay at doing this job every day.

Every day we deal with people’s problems. It could be something as easy as a routine fire alarm going off at a business or as serious as an auto crash with people trapped in the vehicle.

The dispatcher is the first person the public is connected to in time of crisis and at the time that phone is answered, the public is expecting to get help. The dispatcher on that line has to be trained in taking precise information in an expedient matter all the time, being a good listener, having empathy for the caller, and being able to multitask.

You can teach many things, but empathy is not one of them. You either have it, or you don’t, and if you don’t the public will pick up on it very quickly. You have to care about the circumstances or events that are happening to the caller or their loved one.

In order to care, you must have the desire to help. Through that desire, comes the essence of why I do what I do. I want to make a positive difference in the lives of others. If the emergency situation does not end well, I want to be able to at least say that I performed to the best of my abilities, and that I was there for the caller when he/she needed me the most.

This is my dispatch story, and we all have a story to tell. This week is National Telecommunication Week. It’s a time to celebrate emergency dispatchers, and the job they do.

I could not be any prouder of #TEAMDISPATCH. I have by far one of the best groups of individuals on my team, and I am appreciative for all of them. Through the years we have celebrated, weddings, births, grandchildren, and many more happy occasions. We have also shared friendships through divorce, devastations, and death.

We are a close-knit family. My family, #TEAMDISPATCH, does not get much recognition, and it’s mostly because they are not seen. They are the unsung heroes behind the headsets, but they are the most important people you will want answering your call for help.

Please give my work family some love during their special week. Show your love on social media or by calling (985) 632-8075 just to say thanks. The next person they save may be you or a loved one.

Mary Rotolo

Communication Supervisor

Lafourche Parish Fire District #3