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While watching Oxygen's new show "911 Crisis Center," viewers will be on the edge of their seats as the dispatchers handle shocking and intense emergency situations, like missing children, women in labor, house fires, stab wounds, violent people, and more.
But they'll also get to put a face to the voices on the other end of the 911 call, and see who exactly the extraordinary people who choose to be 911 dispatchers at Chagrin Valley Dispatch are. They'll get to the see the celebrations and moments of workplace levity, the jokes (and the snacks) that circulate around the center daily, and the passion and caring that drives these people.
These dispatchers are the heart of "911 Crisis Center," which airs Saturday, November 6 at 9/8c on Oxygen.
"I think it was my natural instinct to be a dispatcher. I just like helping people in their time of need," LuShonda Hall, who has been working as a dispatcher for over 14 years, explains in the video above.
But not everyone knew immediately they wanted to work in an emergency dispatch center.
"I got into the field of dispatching by accident. I ended up applying for this job thinking I was gonna be doing data entry. I didn't know what it was, what it entailed, anything. I just needed the job. I love it, and I love what it does for me on a personal level being able to help people, being able to work with the people I work with," Essence Sullins, who has been a dispatcher for seven years, says.
The friendships are a strong motivation for many of the people at the center.
"It's not just a job, there's a lot of caring that goes into it. Not only for the public but for my team that's helping to save the public. Being a supervisor, you kind of go into the mommy bear mode. Your dispatchers are your cubs. You want to protect them, make sure they're good," Charline Polk, a 911 dispatch supervisor who's been in the sector for 16 years, says.
Polk mentions that one of her dearest friends is Nancy Woodruff, who has been working as a dispatcher for 30 years and is the "one who keeps us laughing."
"I don't really know what piqued my interest in it. Yeah, I wanted to help people. I mean, who wouldn't? It's human nature, but it was more the excitement, not knowing what you're gonna walk into every day, not knowing what's gonna happen in your shift," Woodruff explains.
Woodruff isn't all about work, though. She's married to a police officer she reconnected with later in life, and speaks lovingly of the relationship. She isn't the only one who has a happy distraction outside of work. Polk runs a popcorn business, and regularly experiments with flavors. Melanie McCavish, whose been working as a dispatcher for about 16 years, rides her motorcycle and teaches self-defense classes. Many have dogs.
"Self care is so important. You have to make that time for yourself," McCavish says.
Not all the dispatchers are women, although many are.
"This field is largely dominated by women. I think the biggest reason why is they're extremely emotionally intelligent," Matt Reinke, whose been a 911 dispatch trainee for six months, explains.
To learn more about the dispatchers, watch the video above. And be sure to catch the premiere of "911 Crisis Center" on Saturday, November 6 at 9/8c on Oxygen.
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