The role of the 911 dispatcher is often unsung, but they serve a vitally important role in the world of critical emergency response. Typically, the first “responder” to interact with a person in crisis or reporting an emergency, in the critical first moments of that incident, the 911 dispatcher must endeavor to gather facts like the nature and location of the emergency from a sometimes-hysterical or panicked caller. Their duties include conveying information between themselves, the caller and the responders en route. Amid the cacophony of a 911 center, they may even need to provide lifesaving instructions to callers before first responders arrive on scene.
Persons more traditionally recognized as “first responders” – paramedics, firefighters and police officers – also heavily rely on the information gathered by 911 dispatchers to understand the nature of the emergency and mount an effective response. Therefore, it’s important that a 911 dispatcher have the same clarity of audio that can make a difference between an instruction understood or miscommunication that can have tragic consequences.
NEED TO STAY FOCUSED
911 dispatchers face some of the same challenges as other first responders – including the need to stay calm and focused during long shifts in an often noisy and chaotic environment. Hearing and understanding callers and other first responders clearly is critically important, which is why N-ear has designed the Boom Mic. Stabilizer headset.
Created in direct response to feedback from 911 dispatchers looking for a headset dedicated specifically to their profession, the Boom Mic. Stabilizer headset offers high-quality audio, comfort and flexibility. Designed to be worn behind the head instead of on top, the headset is completely adjustable so the wearer can customize the fit based on their head size and position the boom microphone on the right or the left according to preference.
It’s also a sleeker, more lightweight design so there is more stability during movement with less fatigue than with traditional over-the-head headsets. For added convenience, the dispatcher can comfortably hold a phone to the same side as the earpiece, preventing the need to remove the earpiece or headset for phone usage.
The Boom Mic. Stabilizer can be connected to a dispatcher’s trusted favorite earpiece or any of N-ear’s famously comfortable and discreet 360 earpieces. It also is available with wireless push-to-talk options for further versatility.
BUT DON’T TAKE IT FROM ME
The only way to know if a product lives up to the hype is to test it in a real environment, so I turned to a dispatch supervisor to give it a spin.
Jessica Harlow is communications supervisor for Enid/Garfield/Major County 911 in Oklahoma. The 911 center takes between 150 and 200 calls per 12-hour shift ranging from police, fire and EMS to animal control and other emergencies.
Harlow received the N-ear Dispatch Boom Mic. Stabilizer headset in a six-foot length, along with the N-ear 360 dual ear braided fiber cloth dual earpiece. She was able to install it without assistance from the IT department using the quick connect adapter, which plugged easily into their computer-aided dispatch system.
After wearing the headset for her full 12-hour shift over a week, Harlow came away impressed.
Unlike an acoustical tube, the N-ear earpiece consists of a tiny, flexible yet strong wire that drops into the ear canal. “It was really comfortable,” said Harlow. “It did take a little bit of getting used to just because I’ve never had anything like that before. But by the end of the day it was kind of funny because I almost forgot it was there.”
Harlow feels dispatchers are always having to adjust their current headsets and are constantly aware of that. “Whereas this one, it never moved. I just put it on and it was good the rest of my shift.” She likes that the headset loops over each ear, which helps make for a more secure fit.
HEAR BETTER, DO A BETTER JOB
In addition to the comfort of wearing the in-ear earpiece and the lightweight, adjustable headset, Harlow feels like being able to hear better helps her do her job better.
“It was way different than any other headset I’ve used,” said Harlow. “It has a different sound quality as well – something that I wouldn’t be able to get with an over-the-ear headset. With this one, having the little part that goes in your ear makes a tremendous difference. With the new earpiece, I was able to pay better attention to what was being told to me – whether it was the callers, the radio, police, fire, anything like that – just because I could hear them better.”
Harlow is grateful that Oklahoma recognizes 911 dispatchers as first responders, and she’s pleased there is finally a headset and earpiece specifically designed to meet the needs of dispatchers.
“Definitely if you want to hear better, get them,” said Harlow. “They’re way more comfortable. It’s way better and way different. I’ve been doing this for 14 years and I could hear better out of this one than any other headset I’ve worn.”
Visit N-ear for more information.
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