The second week of April is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

Published: Apr. 13, 2023 at 5:02 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - The first, first responders.

“When you answer the phone, you never know what’s going to be on, what you are going to hear,” said Kyle Gunnells, a dispatcher at the Augusta Regional Communications Center.

They don’t know the caller.

“Can you confirm the address for me?” Gunnells asked a caller.

All they know is someone, somewhere needs assistance.

“The law enforcement and rescue and fire on your way now.” said Gunnells during a call.

Each call is different. It’s what has kept Michael Labbe in the field for more than two decades.

“You can go from doing CPR instructions, to taking a traffic complaint, or you have just taken an assault, and now someone wants to talk about a dead deer on the side of the road,” Labbe, operations manager at the center said.

When he gets that call, it’s all about getting the person the right care.

“You still have to be caring and compassionate, You have to have passion to want to help people,” Labbe said.

The passion to help is what brought Gunnells into the field a year and half ago, and he would eventually like to pursue a career in law enforcement.

“I figured this was a good way to get my foot into the door and learn about the other side of the whole law enforcement, Gunnells said.

This dispatch center received more than 45,000 calls last year, and some may be difficult.

“Everyone handles things differently. For some people, they take a deep breath, and they go on to the next. For others, maybe they will get up and take a walk,” Labbe said.

For Gunnells, he says he now has a clear understanding of the process.

“I mean, you hear a lot about what police or fire or rescue do, but you don’t really realize all that goes on behind the scenes in the dispatcher’s field. So, it is really cool to know more about the voices over the radio and what they do and all that,” Gunnells said.