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911 dispatchers: Cool, calm, collected

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Posted: Saturday, May 26, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 8:45 am, Sat May 26, 2012.

Quick! Help! A baby is choking. An elderly woman has fallen and cannot get back up. A house is on fire. Someone has broken into a car.

These are just some of the myriad of 911 calls that dispatchers answer on a daily basis. They have just a few minutes to get all the information needed to try and help save a life or solve a crime.

A name, an address and a few details on what is missing or what went wrong can be the difference between life or death.

But how do dispatchers stay calm and collected in nearly every situation?

For dispatchers with the Lodi Police Department, the stress does not hit until after the call is finished, dispatcher Jessica Yates said.

It is all about being in the moment, and how you can try to keep someone else composed while they tell a dispatcher exactly what they need in order to get an ambulance or police officers on their way.

"It is after, when you look back and you start shaking," she said. "But on the call, you stay focused. You make sure you get what you need to help them."

But being a dispatcher is not always about taking emergency phone calls.

Some Lodi dispatchers also help collect evidence at crime scenes or assist in booking someone into the Lodi jail.

Dispatchers for paramedic crews like American Medical Response learn an abundance of medical knowledge to help people create airways for someone who is not breathing, or help restart a heart that is no longer beating.

Being a dispatcher means being multifaceted.

"It is always a challenge because you are not there to see what is going on," said AMR dispatcher Conni Janitz. "But it is amazing what can be done in just two or three minutes."

Contact reporter Katie Nelson at katien@lodinews.com.

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