EMD Came Prepared

Audrey Fraizer

Audrey Fraizer

Dispatch in Action

EMD Joshua Rysavy learned a couple of important lessons during his 11 years clerking at a gas station in Colorado.

First, he could do more than work a cash register and, second, despite the job’s tedium, he did take along a valuable skill when hired by Weld County Regional Communications Center (WCRCC), Greeley, Colorado (USA). He knew about stress and was good at handling even the most threatening customers and situations.

“At a gas station, you're interacting all the time, and I was very familiar with upset, emotional people,” said Rysavy, who has received two lifesaving awards and several performance awards during the past four years in emergency communications. “But that’s also one [of many] reason why I love dispatch. Callers are emotional because of the emergency. I can make a difference for people when their world suddenly sucks.”

Rysavy got his taste at a world taking a turn for the worse. A customer wearing a neoprene mask robbed Rysavy at gunpoint just three years into his job at the gas station. Rysavy opened the register, handed the money over, and asked, “Do you also want the change?” The obviously startled “customer” said “No.” Rysavy didn’t stop there. He then asked, “Is there anything else I can get for you?” Rysavy was not being flippant in the threat of danger. “It was habit,” he said. “Customer service.”

The most unnerving part of the experience was not so much the gun—although that was very unsettling—or being alone with the potential assailant at 5 on a Sunday morning. It was the pause, the hesitation before the person turned and left the store. “For that split second, it was probably the scariest moment of my life,” he said.

At the station, Rysavy was in limbo, waiting for the next phase of his life to appear. A friend suggested 911 dispatch. He had the right temperament. He’s a fast learner. Now that he’s into his next phase, he’s stopped looking, except for the next step in emergency communications. He is a WCRCC Communications Training Officer.

“I’m in a much better place compared to what I was doing,” he said.

While emergency dispatch lacks the face-to-face intrigue—if you want to call it that—it does offer split-second decision-making, the “what else can I do for you” Pre-Arrival Instructions, customer service, and camaraderie. He’s content not having to be the smartest person in the room.

“It’s okay that I bring a different perspective to the table,” he said. “We’re all working toward the same goal.”

The two lifesaving awards were spaced two years apart. A caller in 2019 reported an unconscious person lying on the ground. The bystander followed Rysavy’s CPR instructions and provided the chest compressions credited with helping to save the person’s life.

The second in March 2021 was more emotional on the caller’s part. She sounded young. Her voice was breaking. She had found her mother in their home, unconscious, and her skin was turning purple. Rysavy got on the ProQA® Fast Track. Paramedics arriving on scene administered Narcan to counteract a suspected drug overdose and transported the woman to the hospital. She survived.

Rysavy’s “other awards” include outstanding performance, 2020 WCRCC Dispatcher of the Year, and an outstanding achievement award in 2021. He was part of a team recognized in 2019 for assisting in a Weld County officer involved shooting. The officer survived. Rysavy is hesitant in listing, let alone mentioning, the commendations.

“I like it here; I like showing up for work,” he said. “I don’t know what took me so long.”

WCRCC handles 911 calls, non-emergency calls, and dispatch services for 43 law enforcement, fire, and EMS agencies. In October 2016, WCRCC was re-accredited by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch® (IAED) as a medical Accredited Center of Excellence (ACE). It has since re-accredited.