If you’ve called the Colorado Springs Police Department’s emergent or non-emergent line over the last 19 years, it may have been Annie on the other end of the phone, calmly guiding you through chest compressions when your father had a heart attack, or holding the line until paramedics arrived to help your grandmother after a fall, or even detailing crucial information when you found your car had been targeted in a smash and grab.
Annie says it’s a far cry from the work she’d done in the years before her time with the CSPD, as a secretary for an electrical engineering firm. She laughs a little bit at the idea of it, even all these years later, and confides that her early days in the Communications Center were not easy.
“I did have one meltdown,” she admits, noting it happened during the training process, as real, emergency calls flooded the lines. “It’s normal, everyone has at least one meltdown,” she assures me. “The stakes are just so high.”
Annie credits her first supervisor for counseling her through those early days and keeping her on track. And call takers, like Annie, don’t have the option to fold under pressure - their work is too important. The Communications Center is the “nerve center” of the entire city and when our citizens experience crisis, CSPD call takers are their first point of contact.
It is a great responsibility and, with a deep breath, Annie tells me it can take a toll. She still struggles with the memory of an RSV epidemic, years ago, that claimed the lives of several children in southern Colorado. She stills tears up at the recollection of her interactions with mothers, reeling from unimaginable loss.
But not every call is a matter of life or death. A recent caller to CSPD’s non-emergent line says she was looking for a little help in filing an accident report online. Annie picked up and, in-between those priority emergency calls, kindly walked her through the process.
Remember many issues, such as minor crimes and crashes, can be taken care of online. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with those services.
If you’re dealing with an issue that is not an emergency — be sure to listen to the menu options on the non-emergent line (719-444-7000). It may provide a faster resolution and help keep wait times down for folks with more pressing issues.
Of course, an emergency is an emergency - if you’re having one, call 9-1-1 right away. And know Annie and her colleagues in the CSPD Communications Center are standing by, ready to help.
by Kate Singh