LAKEWOOD, Colo. (KDVR) — Before Lynelle Turner could announce that she had answered the phone at Jeffcom 911, she could hear lots of yelling on the other end of the line.
Someone was shouting, “Lay her down! Lay her down!”
Turner, a call-taker recruit who is nearly finished with her 15 weeks of training at Jeffcom 911, took the emergency call.
“We have someone not responding,” a woman urgently reported.
But before Turner could verify the address of the emergency, the caller seemed to have abandoned her phone while leaving the line open.
“At that point, I’m kind of thinking, ‘She’s called in. She’s on the line with us, and she’s just thrown her phone down to jump in and help,’” said Turner, recounting the 911 call.
‘Get that address’
Turner is about to become a full-fledged 911 call-taker at Jeffcom 911 after enduring various levels of training. In recent weeks, she practiced taking real 911 calls while an experienced trainer listened in and stood by to help.
As Turner calmly tried to ask for more information from the caller, she could hear the concerned voices discussing a possible seizure victim in the background. “Roll her on her side. Roll her on her side,” they were saying. “Is she breathing?”
Turner continued to try to call out to the caller, who would not respond.
“I’ve gotten to the point where I try not to over-analyze what’s going on but just focus on: get that address. and it’s difficult sometimes,” she said. “It’s really difficult to get them to calm down and answer the questions that you’re asking.”
Fortunately, another call-taker was simultaneously handling a second caller who also reached out to 911 from the same emergency location. She was able to offer medical instructions and help make sure medical crews were on their way.
A difficult, ‘exciting’ job
“It’s a lot harder than I thought it was going to be, but it’s just — it’s exciting,” said Nancy Burckhalter, another recruit who is finishing 15 weeks of training.
During Burckhalter’s second week taking real phone calls, a woman called 911 to say she had shot someone.
“I took over the call. I put in the address and everything, and as soon as she said what happened, my trainer was like, ‘Whoa! Let me take over! It was like nothing I had ever experienced before,” she said.
Burckhalter said it was “so interesting” to observe how her trainer handled the call in such a “calm, cool” way.
“It was so cool to see someone handle it so well,” she said. “So if I do ever experience that when I’m on my own, I’ll have an idea of how to handle it and the best way to do it.”
In July, Jeffcom received 25,531 calls, including more than 19,000 for which police personnel were dispatched.
Not all calls pertain to emergencies. The call-takers also receive administrative and non-emergency calls, including reports for harassment, complaints about homeless encampments, and calls about dead or dangerous animals.