MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - In our First Responders segment we meet a different kind of first responder. When you call 911, he is someone you might hear answering the phone. Someone that is hearing the problem for the first time and is responsible for making sure the right people get to where help is needed. Tonight we meet Kenneth Rowell.
Kenneth Rowell has worked as a dispatcher for nine years. He’s the lead dispatcher on the Bravo shift at E-911 in Lauderdale County. He has worked there for the past six years.
“I came here for class in Lauderdale County and asked if they were hiring. I got an interview on the spot and been here ever since,” Rowell says.
Rowell began his work on the streets of Forest. He was a police officer for 2 and a half years before injuring his knees.
“I just always wanted to be a police officer. I guess that’s every little boy’s dream to be a police officer or firefighter,” Rowell says.
Dispatchers have numerous responsibilities while on duty. Answering 911 calls, taking down information and letting the right emergency officials know what’s going on in a precise manner, Rowell says anything can happen when you pick the phone.
“We get hysterical callers and you have to try to calm them down while you’re getting their information to get your first responders there. You have to get the information to keep your responders safe,” Rowell says.
He says there are many ups and downs about being a dispatcher.
“We hear a lot of bad things. Our adrenaline gets to going on armed robberies and things like that. We also hit our lows. Sometimes taking calls where children are not breathing or have been injured. You know, they can’t help it,” Rowell says.
Rowell says having been an officer helps when it comes to dispatching.
“I know what I would want to know if I was responding. I want to know what is going on, who is causing the problem, how quickly we can get there and if there are any weapons involved,” Rowell says.
Rowell has a wife and three children along with two step children. He and his wife will be celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary at the end of this month and soon he will be a grandfather.
“I enjoy my job and I’ve always liked helping people. It was a transition from being on the streets as a patrol officer to being here, but you still get to help people. We get cussed at, we get fussed at, but we’re just trying to do our jobs,” Rowell says.
Rowell says one thing that can help dispatchers is knowing your address. To stay up to date with our First Responders series tune in every Sunday night for Newscenter 11 at 10.