City Cast

Inside Scoop on Dispatching 911 Calls in Portland

Rachel Monahan
Posted on July 20
headshot of a smiling man in a blue hoodie

Stephen Zipprich has worked as a 911 Dispatcher for a decade. (Portland Bureau of Emergency Communications)

Portland Bureau of Emergency Communications Senior Dispatcher Stephen Zipprich was recently named North American 911 Dispatcher of the Year. He talked with host Claudia Meza on the City Cast Portland podcast about what’s involved in the job.

We've heard a ton about how Portland's emergency response has been really slow recently. From your perspective, what are you seeing?

“The caller that I'm talking to when I answer the phone, that person is my world for however long that call goes. But our phone system shows us how many calls are waiting and that can get stressful for us as call takers to see how long people have to hold. It's really heart-wrenching for us.”

What I'm not hearing is instructions on how to perform surgery or to give birth or how to not pull something out of an orifice. You're not doing these things, right?

“I could walk you through childbirth because part of our medical triage protocol is childbirth instruction. But of the three of those things, that's the only one.”

What do you love best about your job?

“I have two daughters. One of them's nine, one of them's five, and I get to tell them that I'm helping people and that is really rewarding.”

What jobs would you like to hear the inside scoop on? Email me.

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