FORTUNA (KIEM) – They’re the first lines of communication and they’re the un-sung heroes who work behind the desk for hours and even days at a time.
The Fortuna Emergency Command Center is the brain for dozens of first responders
“You have to be able to multi-task, you have to be able to talk, type and listen, all at the same time and be able to process information that is constantly incoming,” said Cal Fire Communications Operator Kaitlyn Teasley.
Dispatchers take in calls from residents all over Humboldt County.
“Typically people are calling 911 at the worst point of their day, perhaps of their life,” said Cal Fire Fire Captain Jennifer Scales.
“You never know when you answer that 911 what type of call that you’re going to have.”
But the Center doesn’t just serve Cal Fire. It is the hub for over thirty local agencies.
“We dispatch and provide services for approximately over thirty-five local volunteer departments,” said Scales.
There are specific codes for them to identify each crew out in the field.
“If something starts with a 1-2, or a 12 essentially, that means it is a Cal Fire unit,” says Scales, “for local departments for example, Loleta fire, their numbers start with 7-5,”
In this job, communication is key because in any crisis the situation can quickly change.
“It can be very mellow in here at times,” said Teasley.
“Then all of a sudden you’ve got a vegetation fire and its threatening structures and threatening people’s homes, it’s burning and people are scared.”
Dispatchers are always keeping a watchful eye and ear out. Even with the ongoing Mountain Fire, dispatch here in Humboldt, are in constant communication with crews in Shasta County.
The task can be taxing, draining, and daunting with dispatchers working hours and even days at a time.
But it’s a role that they’re proud to serve in.