ROCHESTER, Minn. - This week is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week and dispatchers at the Olmsted County Government Center want to take the time to make sure the public understands what happens when you call 911.
Dispatcher Tony Pasquale explained it's their job to help calm you down so they can get the correct information to the responders arriving on scene. He said depending on the type of situation you're calling about, you might have to tell a couple different people what's happening. "It's something that a lot of times, just reassuring them help's coming. We know where you are. We have people coming. It just lifts that weight off their shoulders," he explained. "You can hear that sigh and they start calming down. You can start understanding what they're trying to tell you again. They might still be talking a million miles a minute, but you're at least starting to make some headway. And that's something that I think we're very blessed at Rochester-Olmsted's 911 Center. We have some really awesome call takers."
There are 22 dispatchers in Olmsted County and 11 of them have more than 20 years of dispatching experience. When police-involved situations happen, Pasquale said they receive calls from the public asking how local law enforcement would have handled the situation. Those calls are often times directed to a different department.
Pasquale explained other times, they listen to your concerns. "Some people call and they just want to vent. They say, 'hey. I saw this and I don't think it's right.' And we're there for that, too," he said. "Obviously, if we have emergency calls coming in, we tell these individuals, 'you know, I respect where you're coming from and I hear you. I do need to put you on hold though because this is someone's emergency that's coming through. I'll be back with you.' Most people are very receptive to that."
You can text to 911 as well if you're unable to make a phone call right away. Dispatchers say if you do text, try to include the location and type of situation.