Smyth County Dispatcher Adapts and Overcomes

My hearing loss in my left ear was discovered while I was in the third grade. It was caused by Lymes Disease. There has not been a time that I remember being able to hear in both ears. Since I have had hearing loss for the majority of my life, I have not thought of it as a disability. I have thought of it just simply as a fact of life and moved forward.

My hearing loss in my left ear was discovered while I was in the third grade. It was caused by Lymes Disease. There has not been a time that I remember being able to hear in both ears. Since I have had hearing loss for the majority of my life, I have not thought of it as a disability. I have thought of it just simply as a fact of life and moved forward.

I have never let my hearing loss hold me back. Adjustments and accommodations had to be made by myself in order to be successful throughout life. For example, in high school and college I would have to evaluate where I sat in the classroom so I would be adequately be able to hear the lectures and instruction.The same placement has also carried over into the dispatch center. I have had to learn which consoles are best for me to sit at to be able to hear the radio properly, as well as to be able to communicate with my partners. There are two specific consoles in the dispatch center that have a speaker on each side. This has helped me to be able to hear the radio traffic. Additionally, I am very grateful to have wonderful command staff that have recognized my hearing loss and have installed a speaker bar in front of one of the computers so I have a speaker closely to me that enables me to hear much better.

In addition to my leadership team, I have also been blessed with wonderful dispatch partners and co-workers. They are not afraid to find unconventional ways to get my attention to assist me while taking calls or focusing on other duties. Whether that be using a notepad and writing messages on it, waving me down, or sometimes even having to jostle my chair. My partners have been critical in helping me decipher unclear radio traffic. They are never afraid to step up and advise me of something that may have come though unclear.

Many dispatchers have to develop a “radio ears” and a “split ears.” During my field training, I took a lot of time listening to the radio traffic and 911 calls to develop my “radio ear”. One thing that did not come so easily to me was the “split ear.” Split ears can be defined as having one ear to listen to radio traffic, while the other ear is paying close attention to your caller. Due to the fact that I can only hear out of one ear, developing a split ear was increasingly difficult. I had to learn how to hold the phone a certain way over my ear so I can still hear my caller while giving the responding units updated information.This has enabled me to create my own split ear listening technique.

I have learned that it is imperative that I take accurate notes while listening to my caller, getting the most pertinent information first, and disseminating the proper information to my law enforcement officers, EMT’s and fire crews. While my emergency care providers are on the way to the scene, I can then gather more details on the situation, then provide that information to the proper units.During “hot calls” it is very helpful when my partners are able to read my notes as they are being entered into CAD, then giving the information to the responding units.

Active listening has become a skill that I have been developing.Everyone should always be developing and improving this necessary skill.I have to pay special and close attention to each caller to ensure that I am ascertaining the critical information. Not only do I have to obtain information from callers, but I have to pay close attention to any information officers or other responders provide for me to accurately notate for their calls.

Dispatchers need to have trust and faith in their partners that they will assist you in any call when that is possible. As a dispatcher, we all have to remember that we are on the same team, and need to assist each other to be successful. It is okay to ask for assistance.Those who choose to work in public safety have a common goal: keeping the community safe, and having all our responders go home safely at the end of the shift.Teamwork makes the dream work.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story!

Kayleigh Jackson
Smyth County Sheriff’s Office
Marion, VA

  • Sheriff Strong

    Sheriff Strong Since 1933

    Learn what makes our association so strong. Learn More »

Sheriffs' Directory

View Entire Directory

Advertisement

News Archive by Year