At least some things are the same no matter where you go, I think to myself.
The phone systems are on for less than a minute before calls start filling the queue. The first call is one I have dispatched a million times before at my old center, but admittedly this was the first time I’m hearing what happened as it unfolded. Our caller is a female, she sounds no older than twenty. She had been in the vehicle while her brother was driving, when a truck t-boned them. The vehicle didn’t rollover completely, but the impact from the truck slamming into the brother’s small sedan was enough to shove it off the road into a ditch. The sedan came to a stop on its side, with the other man’s truck blocking both lanes of the two lane road. A call like that is fairly cut and dry when reading it off, but actually hearing it makes my stomach sour.
The girl is hysterical, it takes two minutes for Chaplain to calm her down enough to get a location from her and her name. Bethany. Despite having her calm down considerably, there’s chaos in the background of the call. We could hear two males screaming at each other in the background. Multiple cars are honking and one of the vehicles involved had its alarm blaring incessantly. While Chaplain attempts to find out if there were any injuries and vehicle descriptions, it becomes evident that the dispute between the men on scene is quickly escalating. Chaplain is not even halfway through instructing Bethany to try and remove herself from the situation that we hear it. A single shot rings out piercing through the noise. Champlain asks Bethany what just happened but she isn’t responding to us anymore. She’s screaming. Her scream washes over us in a wave of icy terror.
What was going on?
Did I just listen to someone get shot?
Did Bethany get shot?
The phone queue beside us comes alive as calls start flooding in.
5,6,7,10 how many calls were going to come in?
The surrounding call takers work at breathtaking speeds to gather the most basic information so they could get off the line to answer the next call. Callers name, callback number, and if they were involved. If they weren’t, they disconnect.
A sickening feeling settles inside me as a realize I can no longer hear one of the men shouting. Champlain is still trying to get Bethany to respond, to find out what just happened, to try and help this child get to safety.
Suddenly there’s a noise on the line that can only be described as a phone hitting asphalt. Bethany’s screaming sounds farther away but even more panicked. There’s a noise of something cracking on the line.
11, 12, 14, the calls keep coming in.