Friday, November 21, 2008

Life Saver

Dispatchers save lives! Don't believe me? Let me tell you what happened tonight at work.

I was working at the college (my part time job) in dispatch. The officers had just left the PD when I received a slightly panicked call from a lady saying she was stuck. It took me a minute (after calming her down and getting used to her accent) to get more of the story out of her. She said she was stuck in one of the buildings on campus. I thought I had heard wrong, so I verified "ma'am, you're stuck INSIDE one of the buildings on campus?" She assured me that she was. I was a little dumbfounded, having never found myself in the same predicament. I kept thinking I should ask her if she tried the door, but to me that would be the obvious thing to do before calling the police. I asked her if she's usually here this late and she said sometimes but she's never been trapped before. I asked her what door she usually leaves through and she told me but said it's locked. I finally, having run out of all other ideas, asked her if she physically tried the door. She said she tried the emergency exit but it was locked. I told her the emergency exit couldn't be the only door in the whole building and asked if she had tried any of the others. In a very exasperated tone she told me she just needed help because she was locked in the building. As a last effort I asked her how she knew she was locked. Her response was "I was sitting in my office and saw the custodians come by and lock all of the doors in the whole building." Without trying to make her more emotional I gently reminded her that sometimes doors can be locked from the outside but still open from the inside, and persuaded her to try a door...just once. I told her I'd stay on the phone. (I think I was emotional support...) She went to the closest door and pushed the handle, and sure enough she was freed from her fearful imprisonment. She thanked me repeatedly, told me her and her coworker (yes, there were 2 of them...and they were both instructors) were very thankful for my help and we disconnected.

Who knew that a very tired dispatcher could help 2 accomplished instructors figure out how to open a door? Good thing dispatchers save lives, eh?

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