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North District 911 dispatch gives a look behind the headset

911 dispatcher (Photo supplied by North District Operational Communication Centre)

When you think of first responders, police, firefighters, or paramedics might be your first thought.

Sharla Duchscherer is a 911 police dispatcher for North District RCMP, and said they’re the first point of contact for those that need help.

“We are what we call the first of the first responders. RCMP 911 police dispatchers answer emergency and non-emergency calls from the public for assistance.”

Duchscherer has been a 911 dispatcher for 15 years, but noted that the career can be a double edged sword, and that you can have some really good days, but also some very tough ones.

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“But the way that the world has been the last few years, people are looking for more fulfillment. People are looking to feel like they are really making a difference in their day to day career choices, and you can’t get much better than knowing that every single day that you are making a difference in someone’s life that quite often could be when someone is calling in on the worst day of their life.”

In cases like the Vanderhoof shooting back in November, Duchscherer said they had never dealt with a situation like that before, but noted they have training to prepare for those scenarios.

“With something like that that happens in our community, it’s all hands on deck. We have the training, we know what to do, and we are there to support the public. We are there to support our police officers that are going into a very dangerous situation.”

“It’s one of those things, you always think of Prince George as being the centre of North District. We service almost 40 communities in the north, so something like this could really happen anywhere, as we’ve experienced,” added Duchsherer.

She noted that they’re looking for more people to join as 911 dispatchers.

“It’s one of those career paths that no one ever grows up thinking oh, I want to be a 911 dispatcher, but those of us that are in it, we can’t imagine doing anything else.”

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