In conversation with Tamsin Doar: Control Room Dispatcher of the Year

| minute read

To celebrate International Control Room week, we’re delving deeper into the stories and experiences of the unsung heroes doing critical work in our emergency call centres, dispatch rooms and command centres.

Tamsin Doar works for Dorset Police and won the award for Control Room Dispatcher of the Year after managing the emergency services attending a multi-casualty Road Traffic Collision (RTC), helping to save the life of a young child.

The judges said: “Tamsin was the focal point in the co-ordination of responses during a very traumatic episode and made a major contribution to a positive outcome. “Within her own team she is heavily involved in training and mentoring staff and supporting the next generation of control room professionals. She is an outstanding role model for her department and dispatchers around the country.”

Could you tell us a bit about your role in the control room, and what an ‘average’ day would look like for you?

I’ve been working within the control room for 5 years and there’s no such thing as an average day! As a dispatcher I’ll start my shift off my trying to read through all the jobs that are outstanding for the area I’m covering. I’ll be checking any outstanding actions that have been carried out and assessing which jobs need priority allocation. You’ll also be balancing all of the incoming emergencies, ensuring that the appropriate resources are dispatched to deal with them. This includes relaying information to the attending officers, conducting and passing research, taking updates from officers and carrying out any additional actions (like arranging recovery for vehicles). It’s quite a varied role depending on the types of jobs that come in.

Working in a control room is a very challenging, stressful environment. Can you share some of the most interesting or unexpected challenges you've encountered in your role?

Every day is different in a control room, and it inevitably means you can deal with some challenging incidents. A recent example was a firearms incident in a coastal town that’s a tourist hotspot. Our caller lost sight of the person we were concerned about, which made it hard to direct unarmed officers and keep the public safe. We also had to advise ambulance and other additional resources where it was safe for them to attend, put on road closures and try to get eyes on the male prior to armed officers arriving. Luckily it had a safe resolution but certainly provided its challenges!

What skills/attributes do you find most crucial in a control room environment, and how has it contributed to your success?

Working in a control room can be a stressful environment so I think it’s important to have a good sense of humour to help you and your colleagues get through a difficult shift. You need to be able to remain calm and focused and have the ability to multitask to the max! I like to think I can read and process information quickly which helps me understand the content of incidents logs and be able to analyse the important pieces of information to assess the risk in an incident and relay the relevant information to officers. This has helped me when dealing with fast-paced incidents concurrently whilst also managing the other outstanding incidents in my summary.

What motivates you in your role?

I think both myself and my colleagues would agree we all like to feel like we’ve made a difference and helped someone in their time of need, and this motivates us in our role as a dispatcher.

Winning a Control Room Award is a huge achievement. Can you tell us more about the specific accomplishment that led to your nomination and ultimate win? How did you feel when you found out you'd won? 

I felt shocked when I found out I’d won and extremely grateful. I think I was nominated for a few different reasons and incidents, one being a serious RTC I dispatched to where a drunk driver hit a family of three and fled the scene. This resulted in a multi-agency incident and concerted efforts from numerous different resources and forces to locate and apprehend the suspect.

A key learning for me is that dispatching is a team effort; although you’ll only have one dispatcher and a support operator on a channel your colleagues rally around you when you need assistance, because we want to best outcome for the members of the public and to ensure officer safety. The public might only hear one voice at the end of the phone but there’s so many people behind it making sure they get the right help.

Congratulations again to Tamsin for winning a Control Room Award. It’s the people behind the scenes who often go unnoticed, but who make a massive difference every day in the work they do.



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