Behind the scenes at 9-1-1 dispatch center

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- Emergency dispatchers across Saint Joseph County are standing by ready to take your call and help save lives. ABC57 got a behind the scenes look at the dispatch center that’s unique in the state of Indiana.

Have you wondered who is on the other end of a 9-1-1 call?

The dispatch center we visited is tucked in the Clay Fire Station on Auten Road in St. Joseph County, Indiana.

"The really cool thing about 9-1-1 is that we can go from zero to frantic in a fraction of a second,” said Nancy Lockhart, Operations Manager St. Joseph County Dispatch.

But this dispatch center is special. It's the only accredited municipal fire and EMS dispatch center in the state.

"Currently there's approximately 132 dispatch centers in the state of Indiana,” said Coni McCloughen, 9-1-1 Director, Saint Joseph County Dispatch Center.

The accreditation they received in November of last year puts them in a special category.

"We received the 170th accreditation in the world,” said McCloughen.

Basically, you want one of these dispatchers to answer your frantic phone call.

"We have a certain number we are required to audit and our standard has to be kept between 90 to 95 percent accuracy on every call and we've achieved that,” said McCloughen.

Countless hours of extensive training occurs before a dispatcher even answers the phone.

On a busy day, up to twenty calls can go through in during an eight hour period.

"We are able to provide them with the instructions they need if we're going to help deliver the baby, if we're going to start CPR, which last year we had four successful CPR saves,” said McCloughen.

Fire Chief John Vance says it's a lot different at the scene than it is on the phone.

"We got very busy with storms, we had a power outage, we had major storms moving through the area and in the middle of all of that- one of our dispatchers got the phone call that somebody was shot and I sat in here and watched that whole process take place,” said Vance.

They say it takes a certain personality type to handle all the stress.

"Somebody that's confident and competent. They've got a really compassionate, caring nature,” said Lockhart.

One important tidbit of information the dispatchers want the public to know is that even though it may seem like they're asking a ton of questions and to explain in detail what's happening that is in no way delaying help.

They've already sent fire or EMS help your way but will keep relaying additional information as they're en route.

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