When I was 10 years old, I walked around with a police cap on. I always wanted to work for the police. Now I’ve been working for the police for 18 years. I started as an officer on the street, surveillance and traffic, but also with youth and drug related crimes. I saw a vacancy at the dispatch centre. At the time, dispatch had a dusty image. When I was an officer, I thought that the job of a dispatcher was easy. But I wanted to experience it myself.
It is such a beautiful job. It is the most beautiful position I have had at the police, and I have had many positions. People do not really know what we do. We do everything we can to help people. This means that we have to make choices, prioritise. If you get five 112 calls regarding scratched cars and 1 about resuscitation, the choice is easily made. But if you get 10 calls of which 4 include resuscitation and serious trauma, you have to make fast decisions. The work of a dispatcher may not be physically demanding, but it is very demanding emotionally and mentally.
As a police dispatcher, you can really make a difference. If through my directions and coordination the bad guy is caught, I am happy. But if I can contribute to a successful ending of a resuscitation… that is something truly beautiful. It is only a pity that you never get a word of thanks. We are invisible to people. Our colleagues on the streets do notice our work and efforts. And my goal as a dispatcher is not only to help people, but also to bring my colleagues home safely.
A while ago, we got a call that initially seemed innocent. As the situation unfolded, a colleague died on the street. In the name of safety, lives are on the line. That messes you up and for us as dispatchers, it is very upsetting. Even though the colleague was not someone who I worked closely with, they were still like my family.
You get 112 calls which really are matters of life and dead. You have to manage this from behind a desk. You are not there physically. That is what I find difficult. You want to help by being there to assess the situation, but you have to do so with the information you get on the phone. This may differ from the actual situation. Then I long to be in the patrol car, on the street. To be physically there. And I still do that occasionally.
I love to help people. In my spare time I do volunteer work. I help terminally ill people to spend the little time they have left comfortably. I want to help and sometimes I wear myself out. At the dispatch centre you do not always have the time to use the restroom or get something to eat. Of course, that is unpleasant. But you do it because people need you. Because sometimes it is a matter of life and death.