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Hollister
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June 28, 2022

Emergency Dispatchers Earn Their Appreciation One Call at a Time

Hollister
– San Benito County emergency dispatchers help coordinate the
response of police, firefighters and medical personnel to all
manner of crises and this week they are enjoying some well-deserved
appreciation.
Hollister – San Benito County emergency dispatchers help coordinate the response of police, firefighters and medical personnel to all manner of crises and this week they are enjoying some well-deserved appreciation.

National 911 Dispatchers Appreciation Week kicked-off Monday and is boosting spirits in the San Benito County Communications Center, said Communication Supervisor Joseph Alvarado.

“We’re the first people you forget when your thanking the fire department for putting out the fire in your house,” he said. “This really helps with moral.”

San Benito County Sheriff Curtis Hill, who oversees the communication department, said local law enforcement officials appreciate the work of dispatchers 24 hours a day.

“Dispatchers have the most difficult job in public safety,” he said. “It requires a tremendous amount of skill and compassion. And our’s do a really good job.”

Alvarado, a veteran dispatcher of 16 years, has watched the number of emergency calls increase eight-fold since he started in 1990. San Benito County’s 14 communication workers deal with between 130 and 200 emergency calls each day ranging from heart attacks to fires, Alvarado said.

“Every day is different,” he said. “It might be a dead baby one minute and then someone with something stuck in their rear end the next.”

A host of studies have shown that 911 dispatchers have one of most stressful jobs in the country, according to Alvarado.

And for dispatchers, there is no such thing as holidays or weekends, Alvarado said. In fact, Halloween, New Year’s Eve and the 4th of July are some of the most stressful times of the year for 911 dispatchers, he said. During Hollister’s annual motorcycle rally, the number emergency calls per day usually exceeds 400, Alvarado said.

“We usually get several people calling and asking ‘can you tell the motorcycles to leave town?” he said. “You’re ability to multi-task grows exponentially.”

During every call dispatchers have to stay calm and focused, Alvarado said.

“We try to control emergencies with our voice,” he said. “It’s all we have. We call it ‘verbal judo.'”

Although dispatchers are grateful to have a week dedicated to them, most said they are happy to help regardless of whether or not they get any thanks.

“The best part of the job is helping people,” said 32-year-old dispatcher Teresa Casarez. “If I can help just one person each day, it makes it worth it.”

Veteran dispatcher Toni Farnsworth agreed.

“Every day is different,” she said. “I get a new opportunity to help people.”

Brett Rowland covers public safety for the Free Lance. He can be reached at 831-637-5566 ext. 330 or [email protected]

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