WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - Several Hancock County dispatchers stepped away from answering phones Tuesday to meet the first responders they talk to on a daily basis, and to get a better understanding of what they do when they head to an emergency.
A 911 call came over the radio, "Attention Waveland fire, two car accident unknown injuries." Listening to the drill emergency alert Tuesday were the men and women who are usually giving the advisory.
"When that fire or emergency call comes in, it's vital that communications officers are fully trained in knowing how to do their job but also how we do ours," Combat Readiness Training Center Assistant Fire Chief and Instructor Russell Shoultz said.
"We sit behind the scenes," Hancock County Central Dispatch Director Dawn Penton said. "We don't get to see the actual process of the firemen having to come down, get dressed. Depending on what they are doing, they might be out in the community, or if it's at night they are sleeping."
Dispatchers were able to see what those who respond to the emergency scene must do before they can even leave the station and what equipment they can use. Knowing their process helps dispatchers better assist those in need.
"For us it's seamless, you press a few buttons, say some things," Penton said, "then move to the next call we still have responders waiting and getting ready and figuring out where they are going."
"The more information we have being dispatched to a call, and while we are on the way to the call, can allow us to develop a more specific plan upon arrival," Shoultz said.
Sometimes a patient's best chance of survival is by helicopter. A medical crew landed at the fire station to show the dispatchers what happens when they are called to a scene.
"It's not just a matter of turning it on and taking off," Penton said. "It takes a few minutes to make sure everything is cleared and an ambulance is the same thing."
Understanding it takes time, dispatchers realize just how important their life saving instructions over the phone can be.
"They are the vital link in the chain," Shoultz said. "They are critical to any emergency response in the community."