Garrett Lane is the team leader of the C shift at the Johnston County 911 Communications office. He works as a dispatcher for all public safety operations in Johnston County. He has been employed with the Communications office for four years.
Q: Where are you from, Mr. Lane?
I was born in upstate New York, but my parents relocated here when I was going into my sophomore year of high school in 2000. I graduated from Clayton High School in 2003.
Q: What got you interested in working at the Johnston County 911 Communications office?
I just like helping people. I’ve known Jason for about five years (Jason Barbour is the 911 Director for the county). I talked to him prior to getting the job. I shadowed him for a couple of days to learn what it’s like, and I’ve been here four years now. I became the team leader for the C shift back in June. As a team leader I do everything I did as a dispatcher, but now I back-up my supervisor.
Q: How did you get to know Mr. Barbour?
He’s a part-time firefighter in Clayton and I am, too. I guess I’m following in his footsteps.
Q: What kind of training is required for being a 911 operator?
When I first got hired on I had no experience as a dispatcher, so I sat with a trainer for a long time. Then I went to a few different schools to receive certification in various protocols. They lasted about a week each. I am certified as a emergency fire dispatcher, medical dispatcher and police dispatcher. They each have different aspects to them. I also went to school in the Division of Criminal Investigation. That aids me in police dispatch. When they are doing traffic stops and are checking on the person we can do their searches for them.
Q: What kind of hours are you required to work as a dispatcher?
We work 12 hour shifts. I started on night shift. I did that for two years, but I’m on day shift now. The hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. I like day shift better. It makes it a little more normal. We work every other weekend. We have a set schedule that rotates the same way all year. I can plan for the entire year because I know when I’ll be working. One person for each shift is on call every two weeks to fill in for people who are sick or something. We back them up and they back us up. We all work really well together.
Q: How many people work each shift?
Our minimum is eight. Sometimes we have ten.
Q: What is a typical day for you like?
The amount of calls vary. We answer a good amount of calls, but every day is different. It is usually quieter in the early morning, but call volume picks up mid-morning. We take all kinds of calls from medical calls to police calls. Today I’m dispatching for the Clayton police. Police will call in traffic stops, alarm companies call if there is an alarm, and then we handle general public calls, too.
Q: Do you find that people are good about calling only if there is a true emergency, or do you get really minor calls, too?
I think people are really good about calling in when they have an emergency. I’ve learned from Jason (Barbour) since I’ve been here that there isn’t a little emergency. If a person calls in, then we send someone to help.
Q: Do you ever get anxious when you answer calls?
No, I feel pretty confident about my skills when I take calls. I like talking to the public, so I don’t get nervous, but every now and then someone might say something that catches you off guard. For example, this year I actually assisted in the delivery of a baby. The scariest moment for me was that for a split second I didn’t know if the baby was breathing. For a second I was scared, but you then you kick back in and know you are here to do the work. The baby was breathing and everything was fine. You have little moments that make you nervous, but you have to remember your training.
Q: So in your training you’re learning medical procedures?
It’s not really medical procedures, but we learn to take the call and get the vital information that will tell us what a person needs. We are trained on the appropriate questions to help the responders prepare for arrival. We know what the paramedics will want to know.
Q: In the case of helping to deliver the baby you must have had some training to make that possible.
Right. We are taught how to aid a person in certain situations. We can tell a person how to administer CPR, we can aid in child birth and we can tell a person how to control bleeding.
Q: Do you talk with the public and the responder at the same time?
It depends on the situation. I can do both and in some instances; talk to the public and the responder at the same time. If I’m telling a person how to administer CPR then another dispatcher would talk to the responder so I’m not taken away from the task at hand. In those kind of calls we are focused on CPR. We help each other out.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
We can’t save everyone. It’s hard knowing that a person you were trying to help didn’t make it. On the flip-side the most rewarding aspect is helping someone. Aiding in the delivery of the baby this year was the highlight of my career. I got to meet the mother and the newborn daughter. I don’t think anything can beat that.
Q: In addition to the public safety departments in Johnston County do you dispatch for anyone else?
We answer after hours calls for the public works and utility departments, the Red Cross, the fire marshal and animal control.
Q: Do you plan to continue your career with the Johnston County 911 Communications Department?
I can’t see myself going anywhere else. I have great co-workers and good bosses in Jason Barbour and Brett Renfrow. I’m still a part time fire-fighter too, so I keep busy.
Q: What do you do in your time off?
I’m married to Allison and we’re about to have our first anniversary. We have a dog and two cats. I like spending time with my family and fishing for anything that will grab the hook.
Correspondent Holly Lock