MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) — Middletown is the home base for Connecticut state troopers. It is also home to their dispatch center “The Message Center.”
It doesn’t serve just the Middletown community like a local 911 dispatch center. It serves the whole state, and there’s not a single day it isn’t responding to something in one of 169 communities.
Calling 911 won’t get you to this Middletown dispatch center
“In here, that’s not exactly what we do,” said Brittany Andrews, Public Safety Dispatcher. “We dispatch specialized units in here.”
Andrews, better known as “Dispatcher Andrews,” is a 7-year veteran of The Message Center, which serves all of Connecticut as a resource for local police and state agencies.
Andrews can activate everything from the bomb squad, to accident reconstruction teams, the state fire marshal, hostage negotiators and send out silver and amber alerts for missing children and adults.
“It’s not good to hold on to the things that we have to deal with on a regular basis here,” she said.
In emergencies it can be a backup for those “traditional” dispatchers.
“Let’s say power goes out, which has happened in the past,” said Christine Jeltema. “They now are the ones that will take those 911 calls.”
While the pandemic has impacted the way police interact with the public, not much has changed at the center. But workers say some days are harder than others.
Like dreaded moments when a trooper is in distress and presses a panic button signaling they need immediate assistance.
“If an emergency button goes off and they don’t respond to you right away, or they’re yelling into the mic because something is wrong and us being behind the desk, there’s nothing we can do except make sure people know where they are,” Andrews explained.
While police are focused on civilians, dispatchers are focused on troopers, making sure they have what they need — which is even harder in a pandemic.
“It’s a hard time for everybody,” Andrews said. “We’re all struggling. We’re all having our own personal problems to put that on a back burner, come in here and make these people that we’re answering the phones…make them the priority.