How 911 dispatchers stay calm during calls

Calls made after 2-year-old wandered away from home

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Channel 4 is now hearing more of the 911 calls made the day a two-year-old wandered away from his home in St. Johns County, a call that had to be hard for the 911 dispatcher to hear.

Many wonder how dispatchers keep their cool and stay calm during calls like this.

Jet Gonzales's body was discovered last Friday in a nearby pond about two hours after his mom called 911.

Operator: "911"
Caller: "Yes ma'am, I can't find my 2-year-old."
Operator: "You sure you've checked the house. Because many times we get calls like this and the parent starts looking around the house and they find him in the bed or the closet or under the bed."
Caller: "I'll go look one more time."
Dispatcher: "OK, look carefully."

Many might wonder how dispatchers are able to keep their cool during these kinds of gut-wrenching emergencies.

Dispatchers are the voice on the other end of the line when someone is desperate for help.

911 operators play a vital role in getting police or rescue to a home as soon as possible and it's their job to stay calm, even when the caller is now.

Channel 4 spoke with investigators about how dispatchers are able to keep their cool during these types of emergencies.

"Certainly these individuals are the front line for us in the communication world as it relates to people calling us for help," St. Johns County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Chuck Mulligan. "They are really the lifeline to the deputies in the field to know what's going on at that scene prior to the deputy showing up."

When asked specifically about Jet Gonzales' case, Mulligan said, "The comm operator was giving her ideas and hints along the way as to make sure we've searched this. Look for this. This is what we normally see when in a child goes missing. Many times these issues are resolved very quickly. In this set of circumstances however, it was an unfortunate tragedy."

Mulligan said communication operators go through several levels of training that include learning the technology and how to make important decisions quickly while remaining calm.

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