Jamie Rockey’s first day on the floor of the Grand Junction Regional Communication Center (also known as the local 911 dispatch center) last week was not your typical first day. After spending the previous four weeks training in a classroom, and under the watchful eye of her training officer, she was ready to start taking actual 911 calls, from real people, in real emergencies.
Her classroom training had exposed Jamie to many of the types of calls dispatchers routinely get: burglary alarms, medical calls, calls from officers, etc.
“I had a general idea because we did a few sit-alongs,” she said.
The classroom training also taught her how to do CPR. In fact, all new hires must become certified in CPR and must maintain their certification during their employment. But classroom training doesn’t necessarily lessen the amount of stress a dispatcher feels when an actual call comes in.
“It was more stressful over the phone, ” Jamie says. “I was just trying to picture what the caller was telling me because you can’t see the patient.”
Jamie followed the Emergency Medical Dispatch protocol to walk the person on the phone through each of the steps necessary to perform CPR on the patient.
“I was relieved after the first one because I let her go right as the paramedics arrived and then I heard right after that that the patient was breathing.”
But Jamie would only have a couple of hours between that call and the next CPR call to catch her own breath.
“It was an older lady who couldn’t wake her husband. You could hear he was having trouble breathing. I knew I had to do the EMD protocol and I had to have her answer the questions so I could better help her.”
Doctors tell us that both patients were breathing by the time they got to the hospital.
To put things into perspective, the Grand Junction Regional Communication Center handled 17,365 medical calls in 2013. Of those calls last year, three of them involved our dispatchers who helped people perform CPR and in turn helped to save the lives of the people involved. It is also not uncommon for a new dispatcher to go through a year or more before even having to provide CPR instructions, let alone having those instructions result in a life saved.
“I was just glad to have a good trainer with me. And, I’m happy I could help those families in their time of need.”