September 22nd, 2007

Pass the Pills

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

You work with a wide variety of people in the control room. We usually work in teams and within the team we work in pairs, usually a ‘controller’ who does the talking on the radio and a ‘not controller’ who does all the updating of incident logs, makes & takes telephone calls and other stuff. the mood of your partner can really effect what sort of day you have, often more so than the amount and type of work you actually do that day.

I worked with Gail this week. I can’t work her out really. She’s on another shift but often covers our shift. She’s in her late 30s or maybe just reached 40. I’m told she’s been divorced three times & one of the marriages didn’t last 5 months. Some people describe her as neurotic, others as highly-strung, but I’m not really sure what ‘highly-strung’ means. She’s looking for something in life & hasn’t found it yet, I’m not sure she knows what it is she’s looking for but I’m told a few PCs have tried to help her find it in the last couple of years, one or two of them are married, apparently.

She cries a lot.

There’s a fair amount of crying goes on within our control room. I’m a six-foot plus hairy-arsed copper so I don’t really understand this crying business but I know that, so far, it’s exclusively a female thing, officers and civilians.

It can be really busy and extremely stressful at times. I don’t think many officers appreciate it, they tend to say things like, well you should see the stress when someone’s trying to bash a bottle over your head & stuff like that. They forget I’ve been there & done that. Sometimes I wish they could come inside and try my job for an evening, just to even it out a bit. OK, it’s a different type of stress but it’s still stress.

Gail cried today, several times. She said something about not being able to cope as it was so busy, tempers between her & the guys on the street were a little frayed, as they can be from time to time. Some people forget we’re actually in the same job.

The answer was to take Gail off the channel for a while, get her a cup of tea, give her a break, which is great. That doesn’t work for long & the next time she cries she’s sent home.

So it’s too busy & stressful for two people to run the channel without someone having a nervous breakdown, but not too busy to remove one of the team of two and let the one left – me, carry on for the rest of the shift on their own, doing the work of both operators.

You work with some people & you spend the day having a laugh & getting the job done, you walk out with your head spinning but you know you provided a decent service to the guys & gals on the street. You work with others & by the end of the shift you just want to slash your wrists.

 Anyone got a razorblade?

You can leave a comment, or trackback from your own site. RSS 2.0


  1. Reactively Proactive says:

    Do you not do 1 day attachments to the control room for new officers just to show them what actually happens (as well as a chance to meet the people their going to be speaking to more than their partners)? I know when I joined it was one of the best attachments I did. Upto that point I thought all they did was a few PNC checks and told people where to go and who to talk to.

    I think the most stressed our guys got was when they were given a complex result, or asked to phone the fire / ambulance or ring the caller back, and withing 2 seconds someone else was shouting up asking for 27 local kids to be run through for the 9th time that day.

    I have a lot of time for most of our control operators as if they get anything wrong, they get some right stick from the team.I say most as we have one particular pain in the arse despised by all but I will save that rant for another day!!

    September 22nd, 2007 at 11:01

  2. 200 says:

    I’ve suggested people should come up for a day and just sit with us to find out what it’s like but nobody’s interested.

    September 23rd, 2007 at 18:46

  3. Cynical says:

    I work in a Controll room and i didnt know what stress was until i started in this job. Officers outside are all too quick to dismiss my role as one consisting of me sitting on my fat arse typing a few updates on a screen. New probationers do come and sit with us for an afternoon but i feel they have already decided we are just civilian slaves who are there to serve them via the radio!!

    Not everyone is like the above but i am currently training a PC who has come into the controll room for a ‘rest’ as he puts it. I thought he would fly through the training and be able to speak to callers with ease when they ring 999, after all he has all the experience of dealing with these incidents in the flesh. It has surprised me how he has struggled and left me slightly smug in the fact, i would like to say…..

    ” not as easy as you think ”

    Even worse that i am half his age and female!!

    September 28th, 2007 at 10:38

  4. Fed up says:

    I work in the control room – we have a ‘Gail’ as well. Trouble is that when they fail to cope its everyone elses fault..
    Love the job tho – cracking blog by the way.

    October 1st, 2007 at 14:47

  5. Control Room Op says:

    I think every control room has a “Gail”.
    I look at it this way.
    Sat in our comfy, air conditioned control room we cannot be spat at, kicked or thumped. It is always dry in the office, we are never rained on or stuck out watching a crime scene when it is freezing cold.
    On the down side we have to try and explain to victims why the Police won’t be round till the next day due to lack of resources. We have to keep an eye on several jobs at once and know where our resources are. We have to make the call as to what grade an incident is and how many resources to send. Sometimes we get it wrong. Sometimes when we get it wrong a colleague may get hurt. We have to live with that and cannot do anything about it in our safe little room. For me that is where the stress comes from, but also the job satisfaction when all goes well.

    Personally, I love it when it’s busy as it makes the shift go quickly. A night shift with just a few jobs which only require a “Go there because of that” from the op can seem to drag on, and on, and on….

    But, if you think Police Control is stressful, try the Ambulance Control. When Police have no resources someone may get upset or the bad guy get away. When they have no resources someone may die. That is what I call stress!!!

    November 7th, 2007 at 18:22

  6. Thethinblueline says:

    Milk 2 sugars please…

    November 9th, 2007 at 18:53

Leave a comment