Yesterday was my Friday … it was actually Wednesday, but it counted as my “Friday” because if was the last day of my work week. My shift schedule is Sunday through Wednesday, with 2 days being 8-hour shift days and 2 days being 12-hour shift days. And yesterday my trainer had a day off, so I got to head over to the neighboring county and do a “ride along” with a local police department and the county sheriff’s department – to get a better understanding of what they do on a daily basis, and (hopefully) that will make me a better call taker/dispatcher.
In the morning I rode around with a sergeant from the local P.D. – and pretty much had a guided tour of the town. We didn’t have any calls to respond to in the morning, so we mainly just drove around town while he kept an eye on things. Which was okay, because it gave us a great opportunity to talk about the town, the geography of the streets in the town, landmarks in town that people might refer to when they call in, etc. Oh, and we talked about the need to make sure call takers put apartment numbers/unit numbers in the addresses they send out. We had a caller that wanted to be contacted by phone, and she had left a message to be called back. But when the sergeant called her, there was no answer on her phone.
*** When you tell the call taker/dispatcher that you want an officer to call you back ASAP on a certain phone number … BE AVAILABLE TO ANSWER THE CALL ***
Anyway, since we were just down the street from the caller’s apartment complex, the sergeant would have just gone by and talked to the caller in person … but the caller hadn’t given an apartment number, and the call taker forgot to ask for it. Mental note: make sure to ask for detailed address information when taking calls.
We did manage to make about 4 traffic stops, but only 1 ticket was written. Conclusion? The sergeant is a nice guy – if you don’t screw up too badly, he will let you go with a warning. Nice to know … next time I plan to speed, I will do it in HIS town. And pray that he is the one on duty.
About 1 p.m. I switched over to ride with a county deputy for the afternoon. First we responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle alongside the road outside of town. Deputy ran the license plate, called the registered owner to leave a message about the vehicle being towed in 24 hours if it wasn’t recovered, and then tagged the vehicle. After that we went back to the station and Deputy (who is really a Detective, too) went over a few cases they were working on with a fellow detective. In the middle of that, he was dispatched to a domestic disturbance outside of town. So we hopped back in the patrol car, and responded Code 3 (lights and sirens) to the location. That was a rush! When we arrived though, the male had taken off walking and wasn’t around – so there wasn’t much that needed to be done, except to counsel the female to head to the county courthouse the next day to see about getting a restraining order filed against the male.
All in all, a good day – and I learned a lot. The guys I got a chance to hang out with were great, and very professional at their jobs. And they all had a great sense of humor – which I am learning is a requirement in this line of work. If you can’t “find the funny” in many of these calls, you won’t last long.
I can’t wait to go on another “ride along” with another agency! And I made both the sergeant and the deputy promise to come by the dispatch center and check out “our side” of things … and they both promised they would.
Well, it’s been quite awhile since I last posted! Lots of things have happened … I made it through the six-week “in house academy” and passed my test with a 99.9% correct score! As my daughter would say, I “kicked the stuffing” out my exam.
Now I am working one-on-one with a trainer, and answering non-emergency phone calls. I will start answering 911 calls next month. The non-emergency calls are going well, although I was terribly intimidated in the beginning. There is so much to learn! And we dispatch for so may different agencies, it sometimes is difficult to keep all the varying policies and procedures of these agencies straight. But I am doing well … my trainer says I am learning quickly, so I will take her word for it.
I have to say … I am surprised at the amount of “butt dials”, etc. we get on the 911 lines. People, for the love … lock your phones! For goodness sake … it’s not hard to put a password, code, etc. on the phone so it can’t accidentally dial out. So may 911 lines are tied up by these calls …. we wait and listen, trying to hear what’s going on in the background … because we need to know if there is an emergency going on at your end of the phone, and you just can’t talk, or what. And then we need to call the number back to make sure there isn’t an emergency … so don’t get snotty with us when we call back to check. We just want to make sure that you are OK.
And you may think it’s cute to let your baby play with your phone, any phone, etc. But keep in mind … as long as a cell phone has a charge, it can call 911. Even if it’s not on a calling plan. Cell phone have the capability to call 911 as long as there is a charge in the battery! So give your little angel something else to play with! Babies can and do call 911 every day. Just sayin.
Enough ranting … regardless of the silly people, I love this job!
What a ride! The last two weeks have been hectic, but fun. I started my training on December 16th, and have not looked back.
There is so much to learn! We dispatch for about 28 different agencies, spread out over 3 counties. And they all have their own policies and procedures. Just memorizing the CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) designators for them all is a chore. Not to mention “event codes” and “phonetic designators” for all the police agencies.
It ‘s like going back to school all over again – AND learning a new language at the same time. But although it’s challenging me, I love it.
Well, it’s all but official – I am a 911 calltaker/dispatcher! I got my “conditional job offer” letter the end of last week. My permanent job offer is contingent upon my successful completion of a hearing test, vision test, and drug test. All of these were completed today.
I haven’t been sure if I should say too much about it to folks yet – since its not “official” and all. But I have been so excited, its been hard to resist sharing the news. I guess I really should wait until the permanent, official job offer letter comes in the mail. Ummm …. nah! Can’t wait.
Training starts December 19th, so for now I am just finishing stuff up around here at work and spending a lot of time thinking about what life will now be like as a dispatcher.
I got a long-awaited email this morning. It said they want to schedule me for a Director’s Interview next week. This is the last step in the hiring process (I think), before they make a tentative job offer. That means I am one step closer to getting this job. Whoop whoop!
It’s been slow going so far. This process started back in July. There have been two sets of tests, an interview process, a background check, … and everything has taken longer than they initially thought. Oh well … at least the process is moving, albeit slowly.
There are six positions available. When I counted noses at the first round of testing (the “Ergometrics” testing) there were about 40 of us taking the test. I have no idea how many of us are still in the process. I know that by the time the background check phase rolled around we were down by about half.
So please keep praying, sending out good thoughts, etc. I can certainly use all of that! The past few weeks have been very stressful as I have waited to hear back from them.
But so far so good!
OK, I admit it … I am starting to plan ahead for Christmas 2013. And today is October 31st. My youngest daughter will be trick or treating tonight, and my oldest will be hosting us at a family get-together at her house this evening. So yeah, technically I guess I should wait until tomorrow to write this post.
But then, haven’t we been bombarded in certain stores with Christmas decorations and presents already?!?!?! So this isn’t earth-shattering or anything. And the whole point of this post is to plan ahead, so I guess that makes this OK.
So here it is; these are a few ideas I want to share with you about getting ready for the Christmas season. Most of these are things that I have been doing for at least a few years now, and they do indeed help me.
And just so you know, I refuse to be politically correct here. I celebrate Christmas – and I make no apologies for that. Other folks celebrate what they want to, and call it whatever they want. And that’s OK. So by the same token, it’s OK if I talk about Christmas, and let other holidays be talked about by other folks. After all, my family’s farm is a Christmas tree farm – so that’s what I know!
- Start a Christmas Fund: call it a Christmas Club account, or whatever you like – your bank probably offers it. Mine does. I just set up my Christmas Club account about 10 minutes ago, online with my bank – won’t help much for 2013, but will definitely be handy for 2014. I had been planning to set one up for the past couple years, but never got around to it until writing this post spurred me into getting it done. And if your bank doesn’t have a special account option for that, see if you can set up a separate savings account that you use for Christmas shopping, etc. The point is to set up an account and contribute to it monthly. It doesn’t have to be much each month; $25 each month adds up to $300 in Christmas cash. Make it automatic so you don’t forget – “idiot-proof” is my preferred way to save. Because if I have to remember to make a deposit each month, to either my regular savings account or any other account, I will forget more often than I remember. So tell your bank to make the transfer each month, and that’s one less thing for you to worry about. (Hint – this is also a great option for those end-of-the-year horrors, like property taxes, etc. I just got done paying mine, and … ouch. Gets me every year! So this account will take the sting out of it – you contribute a little each month, and so when the bill comes due you aren’t left wondering if there will even BE a Christmas at your house this year.)
- Start a Stash of Gift Boxes, Bags, Wrapping Paper, Etc: This is something I actually HAVE done for a few years. I have a plastic tote where I store gift bags, gift boxes, and Christmas wrapping paper that I bought for 1/2 price or less after Christmas last year. If you have a little extra space you can designate a shelf to hold these items. Just be cautious about shopping the after-Christmas sales. You can get some great deals, but you have to be smart about it. And that’s assuming you actually have a little money left over after Christmas.
- Make Your Own Gift Tags: Anyone who does scrapbooking (I do not) will have all the tools they need to make this happen. All those cute punches and stencils … you can go nuts! You can put yourself into a creative coma with all that stuff. My grandmother made her own gift cards and gift tags, and she didn’t even have all those nifty stencils and punches – just a lot of creativity (and time … she had a lot of time.) But I learned from her, and my youngest daughter and I put together gift tags using cardstock, ink pads and stamps, buttons and ribbon, etc. My daughter has inherited much of my grandmother’s creativity. So have at it … take cardstock, or recycle cards you have received over the year and won’t keep, and make gift tags that will dazzle all those recipients on your gift list this year. And store them in the above mentioned tote or shelf with the gift wrap, boxes, and bags you will have so skillfully “liberated” from the store this coming January with very little coinage.
- Don’t Forget the Stocking Stuffers: I like to coupon sometimes. Not in the excessive “Extreme Couponing” way, but I am always happy to get a screamin’ good deal at the grocery store. And I have turned this “skill” into a nice haul for my daughters’ Christmas stockings this year. These are all things that I have “liberated” from the store – and by “liberate” I do not mean “steal.” But they ended up being free or almost-free after sales and coupons: nail polish, candy bars (the fancy kind that are usually at least $3 per bar) nail files, lip gloss, gummie bears and other assorted goodies, razors (again, not the cheap kind), little cosmetics bags, DVDs and CDs, etc. This may not sound like great stuff, but these are stocking stuffers … OK. The really good stuff they get under the tree. :) And I am not running around at the last minute, trying to gather items to put in their stockings … which has happened in years past. So how do you get the great deals? By combining coupons (you can get them from the Sunday newspaper or print them from online) with sales at you local/favorite stores. You can check out any of the many couponing websites for these great deals and more instructions. I like www.couponmom.com, and the Facebook pages “Totally Target” and “Budget Savvy Diva.” Hint – having a tub-o-goodies around is great for last minute little gifts for birthdays, etc. that might sneak up on you. Know the feeling?!
And here’s the tip to help out with Christmas 2013:
Get a gift buying checklist – like the one here. (This is from Liz at “Life In Yellow” – I found her great blog and her awesome printables and feel they are worthy of sharing. Thanks, Liz!) These are great for keeping track of whom you have bought gifts for and for whom you have left to buy, so no one gets forgotten. What an awful feeling to realize you forgot to buy a present for someone! Oops … guess that won’t happen once you are using the above-mentioned tip of getting a handy stash of goodies together. But until then … use the gift buying checklist.
So there it is, for what it’s worth. A few ideas that I have used, and am using, to make Christmas a little less stressful for me. And hopefully they can help you too. Do you have any tips to share about making Christmas (or your particular holiday season) more manageable for you? Please share them in the comments below. Or better yet … write a blog post about them! Then come back and share the link to the blog post in the comments section. Would that work? I hope so! Let’s do it – we’ll help each other out and make thing a little more sane for all of us.