Josh McFadden

Josh McFadden

Story Vault

By Josh McFadden

Prior to Dec. 1, 2014, I knew next to nothing about the world of emergency dispatch.

Having never worked in the industry or even known anyone who had, all I knew was what I had been taught as a kindergartener: When there’s an emergency, call 9-1-1. I had also figured if there was a fire, if someone had life-threatening injuries or conditions, or if I was involved in or saw a situation where there was danger, I’d simply grab a phone, dial 9-1-1, and the fire department, paramedics, or police would come. My only direct experience with 9-1-1 was when I called after seeing a dumpster fire at my apartment complex shortly after my wife and I got married.

Little did I know of the intricacies and nuances behind the processes involved in an emergency call.

I came to the Academy last December having spent more than a decade as a writer and editor in fields vastly different than this one. After college, I worked at a local newspaper for eight years—four years as a writer/reporter and four years as an editor. My duties included writing stories on topics ranging from sports to education to business to government.

As newspapers everywhere began to lose subscribers and advertisers due to the online boom, I diversified my skill set and moved on to marketing writing and technical writing, first for a health and wellness company and then for a real estate company. I learned everything I could about nutritional supplements and cellular health and about short sales and title processes. These were educational experiences as I wrote for both internal and external audiences about the companies’ products and services for customers and employees.

But that was nothing compared to the eye-openers I’ve had here.

Through the interview process and in my first few days and weeks at the Academy, I was amazed and sometimes overwhelmed at the tremendous amount of effort that goes into developing and using the protocols. The knowledge and expertise the hard-working professionals here and at communication centers display every day is remarkable.

It’s clear to anyone that the job of a dispatcher must be challenging, but it wasn’t until I came to the Academy that I truly understood (as much as a non-dispatcher can) what you dedicated men and women face each and every day. It’s inspiring to hear heroic stories of saving lives. It’s moving to learn how you remain calm and collected even when callers are frantically relaying the most harrowing moments of their lives.

I commend all of you for your continued efforts. It’s an honor to play a small role in this profession.