What’s Happening While You Sleep?

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The #NBC10Mornings Team is taking viewers behind the scenes all this week for a look at services that impact you. The first stop was at the Camden County 911 Center.

There are countless people awake at night when it feels like our corner of the world has gone to bed. What happens while you sleep?

NBC10 Goes Behind the Scenes at 911 Call Center

[PHI] NBC10 Goes Behind the Scenes at 911 Call Center

The different jobs that require overnight workers range from nurses to TastyKake employees. NBC10 spoke with two individuals who deal with crises overnight.

Martin is a Red Cross Emergency Communications Coordinator. One of the first things that came up was that Martin was on duty during the AMTRAK derailment. He was the one who first notified and was responsible to notify management and public relations.

He spoke positively of working overnight saying it was more peaceful and easier to focus: “I’m just a night person… I don’t go to sleep at night anyway.”

Martin said that the colder the season, the busier it gets, often because of house fires. The warmer seasons have their challenges as well, such as hurricanes down south. Not only does Martin get calls from the Philadelphia area, but from all over the nation.

“We support the entire nation,” Martin said with pride.

However, there are challenges to working overnight. Martin has a 2-year-old. He’ll come back home in the morning from his 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift, and he’ll “crash.” When he wakes up and is ready to go, everyone else is tired from their day. He said it’s a trade-off trying to catch up with everyone else.

Martin has been working for the Red Cross for four years and, “I don’t have a usual day. I never know what is going to happen.” Calls can come from anywhere in the country, for any reason, and either from the person in need specifically or from the fire departments.

Martin spoke specifically to people feeling alone in their emergencies: “Most of my calls are people just needing day-to-day help. They’re caught off guard, like, ‘someone else is awake?’”

He went on, “You get a better connection with people. Someone can sympathize… relate with them as a human being.”

Nick Espinosa, a 21-year-old 911 dispatcher for the Milltown Borough of Police Department, then spoke with NBC10. He often works the overnight shift.

Nick talked a bit about his job. He described that throughout each night it could either be completely quiet or everything could be happening all at once. 

He was proud to emphasize the importance of what dispatchers across the country do. “We’re the actual first line of contact with the emergency… a lot of people like to say we are ‘the voice always heard but the face never seen.’”

Both Nick and Martin talked about how they enjoy the quietness of working overnight, saying that there is more time and ability to really focus or “be in the zone.”

“We’re always on top of our game, but some of the worst calls come in at night and we’re ready.”

Nick elaborated on what he meant by “worst calls”: “People go out drinking, and people make the mistake of driving.” He went onto say that medical calls are also a big contributor to the call count. “People go to sleep thinking their pain will go away, but their pain wakes them up; some people don’t realize something is wrong health wise until the middle of the night.”

Nick is the only dispatcher in the room. He says that he chooses, during these times, to really get in the zone and be ready for anything. Being alone also has its benefits for Nick. He gets homework done. He explained that dispatching is a great job that allows students to take day classes or even allows for another job. 

Martin and Nick both agreed on one very important thing for overnight workers: company. Martin said “working overnight here, you find who else is up also” Nick also explained, “we have a hotline radio. You can communicate from department to department… you know, really work together. You may be alone but there’s dozens of other dispatchers working as well.”

On Tuesday, NBC10 Today will take you behind the scenes at Philadelphia International Airport.

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Philadelphia News & Search

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