Friday, November 27, 2009

It's In The Numbers

Wednesday, October 28, 2009:

It was explained that, of 500 people who took the 9-1-1 exam, 50 were selected for interviews. Of the 50 selected, 24 were sent on to complete the physical, fingerprinting, psychological exam, and criminal background check. Of the 24 they hoped to have 12 new recruits.

On Monday morning, October 26, 2009, 7 of us showed up for work.

As a Dispatcher, the laid-out training schedule looked intense and intimidating. Five weeks of classroom training, one month taking 9-1-1 calls on the floor, three more weeks of classroom training as a dispatcher, and then three months on the floor with a dispatch trainer before I could even be considered for certification.

Two giant three ring binders and a text book sat in my place in the classroom.  Of the seven, I was the only male.

Three of us were assigned to be Fire / EMS (ambulance) dispatchers, two were to become police dispatchers, and two were set to be TCC (telecommunicators--or the one's who take the initial 9-1-1 calls).

Classes were held in an exact duplicate room to that of the 9-1-1 operations floor. Only difference was, this training room was not live. In the event of an emergency (loss of power to the main operations floor, fire, or some kind of unexpected accident, the training ops room -- by the flick of a switch -- could be made live).  Aside from the two operations centers in the one building, there were two other off-site locations should the main building ever become incapacitated completely.

The two operation centers were separated by a beautiful, well lit, atrium. A tree grew in the center. Branches reached up toward the massive skylight. Although there is no cafeteria, there is a full functioning kitchen with an industrial stove and microwaves, sink, dishwasher, stocked cupboards and a refrigerator.

Both the men and women locker rooms housed shower stalls and snaked through to a weight/workout room.

The main operations floor, sectioned off by bulletproof and fire resistant glass, revealed an array of work stations. TCC operators occupied the center. The left stations were for the police dispatchers. Fire/EMS sat on the right.

Big screen, flat TVs hung suspended from the ceiling and showed everyone what jobs were in cue, the job priorities, and which jobs had been dispatched.

Certified operators wore uniforms. Blue dress pants, light blue dress shirts. Silver 9-1-1 pins on each collar. A badge over the heart. Name plate on the opposite side. Trainees dressed in business casual clothing, until certified. Which meant we stuck out to everyone. And would continue to do so for roughly the next eight to nine months.

Work shifts were called Platoons. 1st platoon worked from midnight to eight; 2nd Platoon worked eight to four, and 3rd Platoon work four to midnight. I was told during the interview that, if hired, expect to work 1st or 3rd Platoon for at least seven years.

That might bother some people. Working nights or overnights takes a tole. I know. For the first six years at my previous job I worked 12-hour shifts, on a four-day rotation. Two 12-hour days, two 12-hour nights, then four days off. The body never gets used to that. You never knew if you should be having a burger, or scrambled eggs. Forget remembering what day of the week it was. Didn't matter. Just needed to remember where you were in the work cycle.

I'm divorce. Get my kids every other weekend and one day during the week. I lived for them. Live for them, still. Working the overnights suits me fine. Midnight to eights would allow me to still go to every sports practice and game, cheerleading competitions, dance recitals, and all the school functions. Four to midnight would make life much tougher. If I got any say in the matter, 1st Platoon was my first choice. The goal, if it mattered, became to shine in class with the hopes that it might allow me the opportunity to select 1st Platoon if the opportunity presented itself.

One of the three ring binders was filled with 9-1-1 procedures. As a class we were going to review every one. The other was a TCC/Dispatcher manual. And the text book was a general overview of the roles and responsibilities of being a TCC operator.

We did an around-the-room introduction. The class I was in seemed good. The people, friendly. The instructor, knowledgeable. I'd barely slept the night before. Kept checking my alarm to make sure I hadn't over slept, or mis-set the alarm. After all, I hadn't worked in nine months. Getting up on time was not an issue when you're unemployed.

I wasn't tired. I felt ready. While the 26th and 27th had been administrative days -- filling out paperwork for direct deposit, and health care, and sexual harassment and workplace violence training, today, the 28th, was the first day of actual classroom training for the new job. No. strike that. It was the first day of actual classroom training for the new career.

****Stop Back Regularly to Read Updates on Nicholas, the 9-1-1 Trainee****

Thomas Phillips,
Author of The Molech Prophecy

1 comment:

  1. NICE job. I feel I am there. You must have had some training as a writer.