S.O. dispatchers have to handle variety of calls, all while staying cool

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

VIDALIA &045; It’s perhaps the ultimate example of multi-tasking on a life-or-death scale &045; and all while maintaining a calm demeanor.

When The Dart landed at the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office Sunday, Deputy David Cobb wasn’t on duty and, instead, was just visiting on his day off. But he took some time out with visitors to talk about the jobs dispatchers must perform.

&uot;Oh, it is stressful, although I do enjoy my job,&uot; said Cobb, a Sheriff’s Office dispatcher for five years. &uot;You’ve got to keep track of multiple calls, and there’s no room for error.&uot;

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In a 12-hour shift, Cobb handles an average of 10 calls to 911. All 911 calls in Concordia Parish are routed through the communications room at the Sheriff’s Office, which then forwards them to the proper agencies. That doesn’t include all the non-emergency calls that come to the Sheriff’s Office, which Cobb and his co-workers must also route.

&uot;You may have three complaints, three traffic stops and two 911 calls (on the line) at the same time,&uot; Cobb said. &uot;And when (a caller) is in a situation where they’re not safe, you’ve got to keep them on the ine until help gets to the residence.&uot;

To keep their skills sharp, dispatchers must take training courses on such topics as medical dispatching. Cobb has also been trained on such subjects as handling a suicide call and hostage negotiation.

But while there are certain courses a dispatcher is required to take, Cobb knows the biggest requirements aren’t those written down on paper.

&uot;Patience &045; and knowing how to multi-task,&uot; Cobb said with a smile.