First Responder of the Week: Smith serves as first line of communication

Published 8:49 pm Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Shaunda Smith has been working as a dispatcher for more than 20 years, taking in calls and sending out first responders to scenes.

When people think of first responders, they tend to think of police officers, fire fighters and EMTs, but the dispatchers are always the first line of communication in an emergency.

“We do not get much recognition,” Smith said. “But as long as I know that I’m doing my job and we’re helping people here in this department, that’s fine with me.”

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Smith said not getting recognition for her job doesn’t really bother her because she’s not in it for recognition. She’s in it to help people.

“As long as I know what I’m doing, that’s my continuation. I know that I’m helping the people,” Smith said. “It would help to have more recognition, but it’s not going to deter me from doing my job.”

Smith started out at another facility, but she ended up at Dallas County E911 nearly 13 years ago.

“When I started working in this field, I just enjoyed working with the public,” Smith said.

“I enjoy the fact that I help the public with their problems, and I also enjoy working with my coworkers.”

Smith said to begin with, she was nervous when taking a call, but over time she grew comfortable with it and it’s more like second nature now.

“In the beginning, when I first got here, I was kind of panicky because you are the ones they are depending on and you have to make sure that you do everything right to keep the people safe,” Smith said.

“But now that I’ve been here a while, you become friendly with the people and you know exactly what to do to help them.”

Working in the field, Smith said she has to endure a lot of traumatic calls and events that stick with her over time.

“You never get it off your mind, but you just have to cope with it,” Smith said.

“You’re always thinking about it, especially when you hear stuff up here, and you have children at home. You’re worried about your children’s safety also. It keeps you worried, but you just have to pray and keep going.”

Smith said the worst part of her job is knowing someone that the call is about.

“Getting a call and knowing it’s a family member, that’s the hard part,” Smith said.

But overall, she said her job is rewarding and she is thankful to play a hand in helping the people of Dallas and the surrounding counties.

“It’s rewarding because at the end of the day, you help people,” she said.