HENRICO COUNTY, Va. - The world is getting an up-close-and-personal view into the life of a 911 Public Safety Dispatcher thanks to a viral Facebook post written by a Virginia dispatcher.
Lynette Jeter, 39, wrote an essay entitled "Just A Dispatcher" and posted it on her Facebook page Wednesday morning. In one day, her post had been shared more than 4,000 times.
"I’m very surprised," Jeter, who has worked as a Henrico dispatcher for 15 years, said. "I definitely wasn’t expecting this at all. I’ve received so many messages from other dispatchers thanking me for telling their truth."
The truth, according to Jeter, is that many people on the outside see a dispatcher's job as clerical work.
"I just explained what so many dispatchers want people to really know. We are pushing to also be labeled as first responders," she said.
The Franklin Military and Virginia State University graduate said she was inspired to write the essay after she heard co-workers discuss how the job impacted their day-to-day lives.
"A younger co-worker, who hasn’t even been here that long, was talking about how she felt bad for losing her patience with her parents," Jeter, a mother of three, explained. "So while I was listening, I thought it was interesting how even though we didn’t share the same amount of experience, we were all experiencing the same issues in our personal lives."
'Just A Dispatcher'
In order to understand who I am, you must first understand what I do.
I am the person who listens to you cry as you’re begging your mother to take another breath.
I am the person who tries to get you to give your father CPR knowing that he has passed but, in some way, may help you to know you did everything that you could.
I am the person who walks you thru the Heimlich maneuver while your child is choking on a toy.
I am the person who convinces you that life is worth living and that your family needs you here when you think that all hope is gone.
I am the person who leaves my family, my home, and put my own life in danger during snow, hurricanes and bad weather so that I may be here to answer your emergency.
I am simply “Just A Dispatcher” in most eyes.
To my family and friends please understand that when I’m short tempered or impatient it’s not you, it’s the weight of my job that may have taken a toll that day. Instead of bringing it home I choose to keep it bottled up to protect you from the reality of the world in which we live.
To my kids please understand when I’m strict and paranoid wanting to track your every movement it’s because I know that a child didn’t make it home to their family that day.
To my mother please forgive me for not having the patience to always sit thru your entire conversation, its only because I’m trained to get all pertinent information within a certain amount of time. So, I don’t have the patience that I use to.
To my friends please understand when I can’t show up for every birthday or event you may have invited me to. Or the times we aren’t able to talk on the phone to catch up, it may be because I may be working or too mentally drained to be there.
To the thousand of callers that I speak to that think that I’m “Just a Dispatcher” remember that I may not be the first to arrive at your house but I’m the first person that you may speak to on possibly one of the worst days of your life.
So I will leave with a quote from Dr. Seuss “To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.