ST. CLOUD -- "9-1-1 what's your emergency"

If you have ever had to dial an emergency you probably have heard something similar to that on the other line.

The Stearns County Dispatch office, located at the Law Enforcement Center in St. Cloud, is the central hive for all emergency and non-emergency calls placed within the county area.

"We have heard every story you can imagine," says Lora Swanson. "It can be anything from non-emergency like somebody's mailbox getting struck to somebody needing CPR."


On any given day the Dispatch office can receive 200-800 calls a shift. And while each call is important, prioritizing the calls by the severity of the situation establishes what course of action is taken.

"We have to prioritize because we only have so many officers that can response to each situation," says Swanson.

The office is broken down into two sides. One responsible for the county while the other responsible for the city. Also with each side there is someone to answer the phones and the other operates the radio with the response units.

The Dispatch team works similar to that of a machine. Because of that each one there is cross trained so that when someone answers an emergency call, the others can cover for the one who is busy on the phone and continue to answer calls.

To help aid in that quick response, each person is equipped with five computers. One with a map to help pinpoint the location of the caller, one to call the response teams needed in the area, one to see what officer is in the area and the other two for taking down information.

To an outsider a Dispatch's job may seem stressful, but to the officer its routine.

"We have been doing it so long its normal to us," says Swanson. "Yes we do get that adrenaline rush but it's pretty easy to stay calm."

The one advice that all Dispatch officers ask of those who are calling in an emergency is to be aware of your surroundings when using a cell phone.

"People don't realize that if you're calling from a cell phone, we don't have a way to know where you are calling from so if you can be conscious of your surroundings if you do have an emergency it would help us find you," says Swanson.


Stearns County Dispatch Officers at work (Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON News)
Stearns County Dispatch Officers at work (Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON News)


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