Just a Dispatcher

“…I am the first person that you may speak to on possibly one of the worst days of your life.”


A Virginia mother’s recent Facebook post went viral because it gave voice to a unique kind trauma experienced by a group of people frequently overlooked as first responders: 911 dispatchers.

Like Lynette Jeter, our dispatchers bear the heavy weight of trying to help people—over the phone, no less—during their darkest hours. They hear sounds of panic, fear, and devastating grief, yet they offer offer calm, practical advice to help you or you loved ones survive. They sacrifice time with their families and their own safety in order to be available for you 24/7.

At REBOOT First Responders, we invite a diverse cross-section of people to participate in our courses. We recognize that trauma does not discriminate, and we seek to include those not traditionally thought of as first responders. In fact, a quarter of our group participants in 2018 were dispatchers.

If you or someone you know has experienced duty-related stress and trauma, check out more info at rebootrecovery.com/responders.

Full FB post:

“Just A Dispatcher”

In order to understand who I am, you must first understand what I do.

I am the person who listens to you cry as you’re begging your mother to take another breath.

I am the person who tries to get you to give your father CPR knowing that he has passed but, in some way, may help you to know you did everything that you could.

I am the person who walks you thru the Heimlich maneuver while your child is choking on a toy.

Lynette Jeter posing for a photo at her desk.

I am the person who convinces you that life is worth living and that your family needs you here when you think that all hope is gone.

I am the person who leaves my family, my home, and put my own life in danger during snow, hurricanes and bad weather so that I may be here to answer your emergency.

I am simply “Just A Dispatcher” in most eyes.

To my family and friends please understand that when I’m short tempered or impatient it’s not you, it’s the weight of my job that may have taken a toll that day. Instead of bringing it home I choose to keep it bottled up to protect you from the reality of the world in which we live.

To my kids please understand when I’m strict and paranoid wanting to track your every movement it’s because I know that a child didn’t make it home to their family that day.

To my mother please forgive me for not having the patience to always sit thru your entire conversation, its only because I’m trained to get all pertinent information within a certain amount of time. So, I don’t have the patience that I use to.

To my friends please understand when I can’t show up for every birthday or event you may have invited me to. Or the times we aren’t able to talk on the phone to catch up, it may be because I may be working or too mentally drained to be there.

To the thousand of callers that I speak to that think that I’m “Just a Dispatcher” remember that I may not be the first to arrive at your house but I’m the first person that you may speak to on possibly one of the worse days of your life.

So I will leave with a quote from Dr. Seuss “To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.

Written By: Lynette McManus Jeter

Henrico County, Va

JENNY OWENS is the Co-Founder and Director of Outcomes at REBOOT Recovery.


1 – https://fox8.com/2018/11/30/911-dispatchers-post-goes-viral-for-telling-their-truth/statistics/331853/revenues-of-mental-health-and-substance-abuse-services-industry-in-the-us/

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