What do you think makes the EDC different from similar monitoring centers?
Kimberly: Here, there is a lot of structure. There are specific protocols to follow for almost every type of call. This allows us to be prepared for any type of call that may come our way.
Megan: We provide a “concierge type service” with every call we take. For example; if we receive a call from a parking garage and the caller has lost their car we make every effort we can to reach the property to assist them in locating their car. We truly are willing to do whatever it takes to help no matter the situation.
Steven: I think the biggest difference is how much we all care for one another and look out for each other. Other call center jobs I have worked at just make you feel like a cog in a machine. The Kings III EDC actually feels like a family.
What is the craziest call you have had to dispatch?
Kimberly: There is such a variety of calls, that I’m honestly not sure how to narrow this down to just one. Something important I try to remember is that it is their emergency, not mine. So no matter how crazy the call may sound to me, I have to have empathy.
Megan: I believe the craziest call I ever had to dispatch was a few years ago when the hurricane hit Florida. There was a lady trapped in the elevator but the roads were flooded preventing any sort of off site assistance in getting to her. It was difficult knowing we could only do so much in a situation like this. Fortunately, she was able to exit.
Steven: Recently, I had a caller at a pool phone saying he was at a vacant apartment complex that was going through renovations and he thought there was a gas leak. I escalated the call so we could get the fire department on the way, but once the 911 operator was on the line with me, the caller was giving a lot of misinformation and did not sound coherent. He gave several different addresses and stated the phone he was calling from was wrong. The fire department went to one of the addresses he gave and found an open field, no buildings or anything. On top of that when we called the customer’s property to tell them what was going on, they said they got hit by a tornado and their office pool area was fenced off and under security surveillance, so no one should even be there. It was very strange.
Did You Know? We find that customers are often unaware of emergency calls from their property until we fill them in – certainly a value-add we’ve been told.
What is your favorite thing about your role at Kings III?
Kimberly: The unpredictability of the phone calls. Is it a test call? Is someone trapped? Is something on fire? Heart attack? Dog hit the button? Gunshot? Locked in the pool area? Who knows? Whatever it is, we are always here, and we will always help.
Megan: My current role at Kings III is the shift lead for 1st shift. My favorite part about my role is getting to coach and support my team. It is fun to see performance improvement and to cheer my team on.
Steven: Knowing how important the EDC is to Kings III as a whole makes working in the dispatch center that much more important and special. I like knowing that what I do makes a difference in more than one way.
What is the hardest thing about being in your role?
Kimberly: My favorite part of my role is also the hardest part of my role. Because of the unpredictability of the phone calls, I must be prepared for anything any time I answer the phone, no matter how challenging it may be.
Megan: The hardest thing about being an emergency dispatcher for Kings III is not always knowing the outcome of a call we dispatch, especially calls where the authorities are involved.
Steven: The hardest thing is probably just the potential of dealing with rude people while working. No one wants to get yelled at over the phone, regardless of the situation. So you sort of just have to get into a mindset that when people call and they are upset, they still need help, and you have to set aside your feelings to worry about theirs.
What would you like people who call into the EDC to know?
Kimberly: We are here to help. If you accidentally pressed a button, it is ok. Just tell us. If you told us you were trapped but, at some point, you are able to exit, please tell us. There are usually a lot of people involved in an elevator entrapment and they all need to be updated that you are no longer inside the elevator.
Megan: We are here to help you, always. We are here because each of us care and have a heart for serving others.
Steven: I wish people understood we monitor the emergency phones, and don’t actually have anything to do with the property maintenance (beyond the maintenance of our equipment). I can’t tell you how many times people will call us to complain about something going on at their apartment complex or storage facility or what have you and then get mad at us when I explain I’m not the person they should be speaking with.
What’s something that can make your day in a position like yours?
Kimberly: Truly any time we are able to resolve an issue and the caller expresses their gratitude, it makes my day.
Megan: We are a close-knit dispatch center which allows for us to be like family for one another. This type of environment makes working together that much more enjoyable.
Steven: Anytime someone mentions the button was pressed because they hit it with their butt or purse, or their dog pushed it. Those calls are so funny to me because I can never understand why they are that close to the button to accidentally lean on it like that.
What is the most memorable call you have taken?
Kimberly: An elderly female pressed the elevator button in the middle of the night stating she did not know where she was and was scared. She was obviously confused and kept repeating that she woke up and left her apartment and now she was lost. She was not stuck in the elevator but did not know where to go. I just kept her on the line with me while a coworker called down the call list provided by the property. Fortunately, someone on the call list was on the property and located her and was able to assist her from there.
Megan: One day when I was working overnight I received a call from a young girl who got into a fight with her mom and decided to run away. I ended up being on the phone with her for over an hour and got to talk to her not only about what happened with her mom but also about school and other things she enjoyed doing in her free time. She really needed someone to talk to until the police could help her and it was neat to be that person for a complete stranger.
Steven: I’d have to say this college student who was trapped in an elevator and having a serious panic attack. I was on the phone with her for about half an hour, and she was crying the entire time. She even had me call her Dad to talk to him, so I conferenced him in, and he just started making fun of her for crying, which just made her cry even more. I was glad to be available as a resource to someone who was so clearly struggling.
Have you ever been stuck in an elevator yourself? If not, how do you think you’d handle it?
Kimberly: I have not. I think I would remain calm and enjoy the moments of peace. Extra plus if my dog is with me! Pro tip: doing this job, I have learned that if you even might have to use the restroom before getting in an elevator, you better do so. Just in case!
Megan: I have not personally experienced being stuck in an elevator myself. However, knowing what I know from working at Kings III for a few years now, I know that if it were a Kings III phone in the elevator, I would be relieved to know that a trained and caring operator would be answering the phone to assist me.
Steven: Thankfully no I haven’t, but the first thing I would do is press as many buttons as I could. Generally pushing another floor will open the door. If that didn’t work, then I would press the help button and hope it was a Kings III phone.
How hard is it to understand people when they’re panicking?
Kimberly: It can be extremely difficult, especially in the case of elevator phones. Remember, you are in a space that echoes and you are speaking to us through a speaker that is usually not located in front of your face. Typically talking in a tone that is a bit louder than normal conversation is ideal. If you are panicking and yelling, you may have to just keep repeating yourself over and over until we can understand what you are saying. This will also delay getting help as there is information that we need to obtain before we call someone to come help you, so in the meantime, we are doing our best to try to de-escalate the situation and to help calm you down.
Megan: We have learned several tactics that help us better understand the caller. Typically, we allow the caller to vent first. Once the caller vents it allows for us to better determine what exactly is needed.
Steven: More often than not it’s very hard. There is a misconception that we can magically open the door by pressing a button on the phone, which obviously isn’t the case. So when you start to ask the workflow questions instead of getting the doors open people just yell or scream and become very uncooperative which just delays getting calls made to help them.
How do you decide when you should stay on the call instead of disconnecting immediately after dispatch?
Kimberly: There are guidelines that we follow, and certain calls require us to stay on the phone until the issue is resolved. Otherwise, you just know when you need to stay on the line with someone. Even though they say we can disconnect, when they are obviously in distress, sometimes it is best to stay on the line and be the calming voice at the other end.
Megan: It truly depends on the situation and the caller. Per protocol, we do have very specific reasons or special comments on accounts that automatically require we stay on the line with the caller. Outside of those specifications it truly depends on what is in the best interest of the passenger with their safety being our first priority.
Steven: I can usually tell about ten seconds into a call if I should stay on the phone with someone. There is a big difference between someone being angry and someone being scared and you can hear it in their tone as they say “I’m stuck in an elevator”. So, once it’s obvious they are scared even after I have dispatched the appropriate help, I know to ask them if they would feel more comfortable having me on the phone until they can exit.
We think this interview makes it obvious that it takes a special type of person to fulfill the role of a Kings III Emergency Dispatcher. Now and always, we appreciate all of our essential EDC workers and are proud of the way they represent our organization. As you can see, anyone that uses a Kings III emergency phone is in good hands.
Sound like the kind of service you’d like to provide your customers when it matters most? Contact us here to help you evaluate your emergency phone system needs.