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‘It’s Good To Know That I Help People’: Meet New Dispatchers On ‘911 Crisis Center’

Handling unpredictable emergencies is the job for the rookies and the veterans at a busy Ohio dispatch agency featured in "911 Crisis Center." Meet some of them.

By Joe Dziemianowicz

If someone was struggling to breathe, would you know how to give potentially life-saving CPR? 

How to Watch

Catch up on 911 Crisis Center on Peacock or the Oxygen App.

That’s part of the job for veteran and rookie dispatchers seen working their shifts in “911 Crisis Center,” airing Saturdays at 9/8c on Oxygen. 

Chronicled fly-on-the-wall-style at Chagrin Valley Dispatch in Ohio, Season 2 of the show features familiar faces from last year and new ones tackling the challenging job.

Steven Schieferstein, a single dad, is among the newbie dispatchers. He’s no stranger to high-pressure situations, having previously worked as a firefighter and police officer. Dispatching comes with its own unique challenges — and rewards. Schieferstein gets that message with every call, including one in which he successfully guides a panicky caller through CPR.

“It’s good to know that I actually help people,” he tells producers in the episode. “It makes you feel proud of what you do.” 

Dispatcher Jennifer Barber is another fresh face at Chagrin Valley. Supervisor Charline Polk, whom we met in Season 1, describes her as “spunky ... If I want a good laugh, a good pick-me-up, I go right to Jennifer.”

Indeed, one of Barber’s calls from a man who put an item in an oven that absolutely didn’t belong there (no spoilers, you’ll have to watch) had the whole communications center laughing.

Dispatcher trainees Patrick Mulholland and Lexi Hall are two more new faces. Mulholland gets an invaluable lesson in how a 911 call about one emergency can instantly shift gears into another crisis. That’s what happens as he monitors dispatcher Jessica Merkosky, whose call about a breaking and entering leads to a high-speed chase. 

Merkosky, who’s got two years of experience under her belt, stayed calm and managed to go with the flow. Experience — on the job and in life — is something that dispatchers rely on every time they pick up a call.

All of the seasoned Chagrin Valley pros would concur, including Polk, an unofficial den mother to the Cleveland-area crew, as well as Melanie McCavish, Arnold Rinas, Lushonda Hall, Ashley Welch, and Melinda Pilat, who were introduced in Season 1.

Be on the watch for more returns including ones by Abby Encarnacion, who’s juggling being a new supervisor as well as being a mother, Essence Sullins, whose dispatch savvy and quick-thinking helps lead to the whereabouts of a baby, and Matt Reinke, who’s gone from a 2021 trainee to a dispatcher with aspirations of being a supervisor.

To learn about dispatchers and what they do, watch “911 Crisis Center,” airing Saturdays at 9:30/8:30c on Oxygen.