Emergency Dispatchers Honored This Week

BILOXI (WLOX) -- They answer cries for help, calls from kooks and everything in between. Emergency dispatcher have heard it all.

"So, do you want to see the officer?" said Barbara Stanley, to the caller on the other end.

Stanley loves the job she's been doing for 22 years. The satisfaction that comes from helping others, also means coping with crisis.

"When I get off the phone, sometimes it gets overwhelming and you have to let it go. You have to just keep on going so if someone calls for help again, you're there to help them," she said.

"I never thought about being a dispatcher. It's kind of a behind the scenes job," said Angie Myrick.

Her brother was a police officer who talked her into trying dispatch. It's a job that requires quick thinking, sound judgement and calmness under pressure.

"You don't get emotional at the time. But maybe when you, depends on the call, when you get off the phone you may have to take a little break, kind of adjust. Then you have to go right back to it," she said.

"You have to be able to hustle at times and you have to be able to remember sometimes. You may have four or five officers keying up right after the other and you need to know where they are," says Myrick.

"I love it. It's exciting. Every day is something different," said dispatch veteran Lola Gruich.

She's handled thousands of calls for help during her 25 years as a dispatcher.

"Just when I think I've heard it all, I hear something new," she says, smiling.

Biloxi is looking to hire more dispatchers. Veterans like Gruich say the job description is simple.

"Have a bladder the size of the Gulf of Mexico, a stomach of iron, and a heart of gold," she said.

Chuckle if you'd like, but she's not kidding.

Hurricane Katrina brought Biloxi dispatchers some of their most challenging calls. In the height of the storm, residents struggling for their lives, pleaded for help. Dispatchers had to tell them that police could not respond until the storm subsided.