Friendship, From the Radio to the Street

For many of us in the emergency services fields, we get an opportunity to know our dispatchers. Our dispatchers or 911 operators are the lifeline on the other side of the radio. This lifeline, watches our “6” when we are alone, keeps the callers calm and directs us with precision to where help is needed.

I was fortunate to have worked on the other side of the mic from fellow contributor and dispatcher Sean Walsh. It was Sean who helped me get my start at The Firehouse Tribune. Over the past few years I developed a strong bond with Sean and the members of the night shift at Morris County Communications Center. It was truly helpful to know that Sean would always be on the same wavelength as me. 

Many a time Sean could figure out what I was about to say before I said it over the air to him.  He was able to do this just by picking up our tendencies in field communications over the years.  Sean was there to help me run the largest attended county parade in the course of 10+ years. It was his help during the night shift when things got busy that ensured the quick responses of ambulances. That day, in the course of 14 hours, we had 44+ emergency medical services calls.

Sean, operator 180, was there when I became a new company officer in the fire department. Even at 2am, he was able to go above and beyond for us. He was able to get call back numbers, do phone patches, cover the radio, and manage to calm residents down who were thousands of miles away and inform them that the fire department was at their house and needed access.

As Captain of a very busy local ambulance squad, I regularly volunteered on our Saturday night shift. It was considered to be one of the busiest days of the week for the squad due to the many bars and restaurants in town. Sean was on the dispatch desk for many of those Saturday nights. Sean was always ready to help us at 2am when the bars would close and the call volume would spike within a 20 to 30 minute period. He was truly always on his “A” game helping us manage the influx of calls.

It’s a great feeling when you know you’re on the same wave length as your dispatcher and you can relate to one another. I have been fortunate over the past few years to have worked the radio with fellow contributor Sean Walsh. We will certainly miss him as he chases new endeavors, guiding the world’s air travel. We thank him for his service.  To operator 180, thank you for your service, best of luck my friend, we will miss you.

About the Author

NICHOLAS WITCZAK is the lieutenant of Brookside Engine Co. 1 and volunteer EMT for the Mendham Township First Aid Squad. Additionally he serves as the Mendham Borough OEM Coordinator. Nick has served in a multitude of departments and positions over the last 8 years including Past Captain of Morristown Ambulance Squad, volunteer firefighter/EMT in combination fire departments including the Wallingford and Allingtown Connecticut fire departments. He has wealth of experience working and volunteering in emergency medical services including municipal, commercial, fire based EMS and 911 fire dispatching. He currently holds a B.S. in Fire Administration from the University of New Haven. Nick works full time in the fire protection industry specializing in safety, sales and project management. He works part time as the NJ Client Development Coordinator for Emergency Resource Management.