Hit Series 9-1-1: Talking to local dispatchers about TV vs. reality


In the hit series 9-1-1, there is one line that sums up this intense profession: “We save people’s lives every day.”

In Greenville and Pickens Counties, they’re not actors, they’re real people. They’re the first voices you hear when panic and emergency set in.

“When anything happens, we take this stuff home, whether it’s somebody in the public getting hurt or if it’s one of our deputies getting hurt. It’s something that sticks with us and that we have to live with,” David Dietz, Greenville County communications director said.

With more than 1,800 calls coming in each day, there’s little time to breathe before the next call comes in. Something these dispatchers say is spot on in the show 9-1-1.

“You never know when you push the button and you answer that 911 call what you’re going to get. I mean we could train people on everything we can think of but there still gonna be that 911 call that comes in and you say, “‘kay, I’ve never had this before,'” Lisa Castle, Pickens County communications director said.

Taylor Read with Greenville County dispatch is a regular viewer of the show mirroring her day-to-day life.

“She sits down at a desk and it sounds like she’s dispatching for one officer and just dealing with one call. And over here, you’re dispatching from anywhere from 15 to 50 people. So you’re dealing with 50 people plus your caller,” Read said.

Directors of communication David Deitz and Lisa Castle said the way dispatch locates people in the show is a bit off from the actual reality.

“Tracing a phone call or pinging a cell phone to figure out where it’s at, it’s not normally something that can be done in this center,” Dietz said.

“They make it seem like it just shows everybody’s location exactly where the call is. And it’s not like that, some phones never show the exact location where someone’s at,” Read said.

It’s unlike any other job, and can be relentless, but even when they get the horrifying calls, they choose to recover within minutes to answer the next ring for one reason.

“Even though we’re not the ones putting out the fire on scene, or taking someone to the hospital, we still get to help people,” Castle said.

“I think if you asked everyone here why they do this job it’s because they want to help people. We have some part to do with just making their day a little better,” Deitz said.

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