I submitted my application to become a 911 call-taker/dispatcher in a local city. This has been brewing for about a year now, and I got the notice last week that they are hiring. So I am going to “go for it.”
As I said, it started about a year ago. My oldest daughter was home from college for the summer, and she had just completed clearing out the garage. And thank goodness … it had been a year since my husband passed away, and I had not been able to clean out the garage. Heck, I had barely been able to set foot in the garage unless it was necessary. That had been “his domain” – his refuge, where he retreated at the end of the day to tinker with things, drink beer and listen to his blues music – or maybe a little classic country. It had been too hard for me to clear out, I realized – so I turned her loose on that project. She went to work with gusto, and by the end of the day had everything organized and cleaned.
Anyway … we stood in that cleaned out garage and talked. About school, about jobs, etc. And she asked me if I intended to continue working on grandma and grandpa’s farm, or if there wasn’t another job I wanted to try. Something else that might be more challenging. My first thought? “What could be more challenging than working alongside your parents?!”
But it was an honest question, and I started thinking. I was so blessed to have a close family, and have the security of a job where I could set my own hours (within reason) and still have a paycheck and insurance. That had been a necessity after my husband was diagnosed, and in the year following while he fought the brain tumor. I say “the” brain tumor and not “his” brain tumor because it affected the entire family, and not just him. We all say it as a common enemy, and tried to help him fight as best we could.
But was I just taking the easy, secure road by staying on the farm? I didn’t feel like I was being challenged, and I really didn’t feel like I had much to offer the farm. My college degree was in communications, and that wasn’t as necessary to the daily running of the farm as I had once hoped. Maybe it was time to think about moving into a different line of work.
She told me about her friend’s mother who was a 911 dispatcher in a different county. It sounded exciting, and kinda scary … but something that would be right up my alley. And after what we had been through with the cancer, not much scared me anymore.
So I started investigating. I contacted the closest 911 communication center to see when they were hiring. They weren’t at that time, but they invited me in for a “sit-along.” Yeah, police and firefighters have “ride-alongs” for those interested in learning more about their professions – dispatchers have “sit-alongs.” 🙂
So I went and spent two hours alongside the call-takers and dispatchers one Friday afternoon last summer. I got to listen in on both emergency and non-emergency calls, and learn more about how police and fire units are dispatched. This particular center dispatches for a whopping 29 police, fire and medical agencies (at the time I visited, they only dispatched for about 17), both here in the valley and on the coast. It was amazing and didn’t intimidate me at all. In fact, I went right over to my sister’s house and debriefed her and her husband, who is a firefighter/paramedic in the city in which I hope to be dispatching.
So I have been waiting for a year now, every few months sending in a short email to inquire of the training officer if they are hiring yet. And the day has come … the application deadline is today!
So two days ago I took my typing test and forwarded the results along with my application. I shouldn’t have to wait long, I guess. The next phase of testing is set for next Wednesday, and unless I really blow it big time on the application – I should be included in that phase. After that its more testing and background investigations and interviews. The tentative date for the hiring list is October 21st. Wish me luck! 🙂