Natalie’s part time job turned into a dream career , we find out how

Why did you join the control room?

I started my career with West Yorkshire Police in the Customer Contact Centre answering inbound calls, it was a million miles away from my previous roles which had mainly been in a sales environment.  My plan was to start fresh with a little part time job whilst my Son was so little, not being one who can “just go to work” I opted for a part time role which saw me start with 12 weeks intensive training and was a very community responsible role…..I was proud to work here from the first day I stepped through the door, luckily I had never really had anything to do with the police before so it was all so new to me, I suddenly realised once you joined you are part of a huge family.  I loved my time call taking and dealt with calls from “someone has stolen my turkey out of the fridge in our shared house” to handling harrowing calls of people in distress and severe danger.  I received a commendation for helping a female by keeping her attacker talking whilst my colleagues dispatched to the address to make an arrest and her words of “that lady saved me” still make me cry today.  I often looked at my colleagues in dispatch and was in awe of what they did, so quick and knowledgeable, I couldn’t wait to get the chance to learn their job and join them.

Tell us what is like working in an emergency control room?

I did a number of years as a dispatcher, I have laughed, I have cried, I have been thankful every day for the people I have around me.  Most days are a blur, one job to the next, often stacked in a row, requests from all districts for specialist resources. It never fails to amaze me that these people around me get up and show up no matter how they feel, they put everything to one side and walk through those doors ready to try and fix everyone else, to contribute in some way to saving people, property and communities, to be the first to hear the poor person in the RTC has passed away, to hear the screams of their families over the radio, to take a breath and then continue to try and organise what needs to be done to support the officer at the scene and the family that are grieving, They are quick to respond to organise resources where they need to be, to do 10 things at once, and to do it all with politeness and respect.  They worry for their colleagues they send to jobs where a person is brandishing a weapon, they know what they are sending them to and what the outcome could be, training is tuff, we aren’t trained for good stuff – we are trained for the worst stuff, the scenario’s of nightmares.  We go home having heard, seen and thought about things we didn’t want to know existed, we go home exhausted.  In the odd occasion we get a break (we don’t use the Q word) we talk and we share and we laugh about normal every day things, tales from rest days that seem so long ago, plans for our next breaks and tales of our families, we take the mick out of each other, but as soon as that screen flashes or the radio goes we spring to attention… we do what we do best, then we go home proud knowing we made a little difference.

In the odd occasion we get a break, we talk and we share and we laugh about normal every day things, tales from rest days that seem so long ago, plans for our next breaks and tales of our families, we take the mick out of each other, but as soon as that screen flashes or the radio goes we spring to attention… we do what we do best, then we go home proud knowing we made a little difference.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The people I work with, they are all amazing. The success of seeing the team deploy and then hearing that the person has been arrested, that the stolen car has been returned, that the tac med has saved that person’s life, that we got those officers there, us…we…..

What makes your job challenging and how do you overcome this?

Lack of resources is our main issue, we want to support all our districts when they ask for help. Every day we face challenges of every kind, everything typically happens at once, everyone wants to speak to us on the radio at once.  Simple things are against us, the time of day (typically an RTC will come in the other side of the city from where your resource is in peak hour traffic)

What does International Control Room Week mean to you and the team?

It is great to share and hear from other forces and emergency control rooms, these are our wider family, to celebrate one another and recognition for the job we do.

Thank Natalie and the team by using #UnsungHeroes on social media. If you have a story, please email hello@controlroomweek.com