EXPERIENCES WITH 9-1-1 PROMPT CAREER SWITCH
June 9, 2014
By Lauren Packer
The road Meridith Jensen took to becoming a dispatcher seems to be something of fate.
It started with the several interactions Jensen had with 9-1-1. In 2007, she performed CPR on a 9-year-old girl for 12 minutes at an elementary school where she worked as a health assistant.
“Obviously it was a really stressful situation to do CPR as I was trained for it but I never imagined I would have to do it on a child,” Jensen recalled. “To have to make that 9-1-1 call was terrifying, but the dispatcher was so calm and talked me through how to do everything. It was inspiring to hear that calm voice on the other end of the phone. It kept me going.”
Motivated by the traumatic event at the school, she started a fundraiser to get an AED in every school in the district. Her goal was realized in 2007 when every school in District #49in El Paso County in Colorado Springs, Colo., became equipped with an AED.
Jensen’s experience with 9-1-1 continued. An accident on the highway had her calling 9-1-1. A man had flown off his motorcycle and Jensen stopped at the scene to apply pressure to the man’s bleeding leg.
In January of 2008, a dispatcher job opened up in the police department where her husband was an officer. She applied, got the job, and quickly fell in love with the occupation. Jensen was named Dispatcher of the Year at NAVIGATOR 2010.
Shortly after, she was offered the position of Quality Assurance Analyst & Instructor at her center.
Jensen always knew she wanted to teach; it was her ultimate goal when she started dispatching. “I love teaching and am so happy that I have the opportunity to do so,” she said.
It pays to have so much experience being on the other end of a 9-1-1 call.
“Whenever I have a class of new dispatchers, I always share my experiences of calling 9-1-1,” she said. “I explain that the caller has probably never called before and that each dispatcher needs to be a calm voice and help them through the worst day of their life.”
In 2011, Jensen became a software instructor with PDC and has traveled all over the country, mainly the East Coast, and Canada.
“I find something interesting and rewarding with each trip,” Jensen said. “I try to be a tourist in each city I visit. I really enjoy meeting the people who work at each agency. They are all so unique in their own way. I love soaking up the environment and they always make me feel so welcome. Each agency has the feeling of being one big family and I love that.”
Jensen works hard to give back to her community. Along with her agency, she started a free community class to get residents CPR certified. She gets the word out about classes by sending out fliers, participating in health fairs, and putting on events. Since starting the organization in 2012, Jensen has taught 3,000 people.
“We have had huge success at malls,” she said. “People walking by would stop and take the time to learn CPR. We also would go to baseball games and do training there as well. The program is something that I am really proud of.”
Having caught the “dispatch bug,” Jensen absolutely sees herself doing this until she retires.
“I am hooked,” she said. “I love teaching. I love training. I love going into the community and certifying citizens in CPR.”