The Days and Nights of 911 Dispatchers
91 1 — it is the emergency number we hope we’ll never have to use. Bui if the day comes when we do have to dial it, there’s a good chance a neighbor will answer the phone. Denton residents Ruth Goodwin and Carla Anderson are two of the people waiting to offer assistance at the other end of the line.
Ruth Goodwin, 33, lives on River Street, in the home where she grew up and that she now shares with her husband and two children.
A 91 1 dispatcher for the Denton Police Department since February of 2013, she notes that one of the questions she was asked when applying for the job was. “Can you handle 90 things at once?” Her reply was: “Of course — I’m a mom!”
Like all dispatchers, Goodwin passed a Civil Service exam that tested not only her typing but also her ability to handle a simulated 911 phone call. Then she passed an oral exam that required her to assess three different emergency situations. In one situation, she recalls. “A woman calls who thinks someone is in the house. She has a gun and wants to know if she should shoot the intruder. My response was. ‘No. don’t shoot. I am sending officers there immediately. Stay on the phone and tell me what you hear”.
There is no book to study when preparing for a 91 1 exam. Instead, notes Goodwin: “You need common sense.”
Once hired, she and the other new dispatchers attended the Police Academy in Green Heights, where trainees practice handling hypothetical calls and learn about police codes, radio operations, the basics of the law, and local geography, including police districts.
As a Denton native, Goodwin has found her knowledge of the city to be helpful. “The corner of Main and 2nd is a dividing line between the Mission and Park police stations,” she explains.