TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Meet Mary Rock. She joined the 9-1-1 communication operators' team back in June. On average, she helps answer 500 emergency calls a day, emergency calls like fires, medical emergencies, robberies, and any other violent acts.
"It has very difficult moments. A lot of times you get people who are frantic or they're not calm. You have to try and bring them down to if not your level a lower level," said Mary Rock, 911 communications operator.
500,000 is the number of calls Leon County's 911 dispatch receives per year. Out of that number, 200,000 are considered 911 emergency calls. That number is expected to increase as the population grows in Leon County. Though 911 dispatch is seeing a decrease in enrollment.
"It's very busy and fast paced. So, the days are long, and they don't really fly by but it's rewarding. It takes a certain kind of person to do what we do," said Rock.
After just a few short weeks post training Rock experienced one of the scariest moments of her life, a call she said she will never forget. A lady had called and said that a man had overdosed.
"I instructed her on giving Narcan and it didn't do anything. So, then we started CPR. We did CPR for a little over 5 minutes and she was able to revive him. Come to find out after the fact, he did live, it was his mother I was speaking to," said Rock.
Moments like this helped Rock realize this job was bigger than herself.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce predicts by 2030 the population will surge anywhere between 20,000 to 45,000 people in Leon County. Though, Leon County's dispatch only has 107 staff members to take all the calls that come through leaving many new faces to handle emergency situations.
"You have the ability to affect the lives of so many people on a daily basis by being able to answer that call for help and give them the help they need. That's very rewarding," said David Odom, Director of Consolidated Dispatch Agency.
Odom is working to get his dispatchers the reward and support they deserve.
Like increasing pay to $40,000 a year, providing a $1500 hiring bonus, and sparking community engagement.
"The need is urgent. The reason why is because when you first call 911 our communication operator is the first one you're going to get. They're the heartbeat," said Odom.