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Posted on: July 29, 2021

Barista to Emergency Dispatcher

cream being poured into mug of coffee

There’s an unexpected perk about baristas: their multi-tasking skills make them excellent first responders. Kaitie Campbell was a Barista at Starbucks for approximately four years, where she described “world class customer service” as the company’s primary focus. She enjoyed her job, which improved her customer service skills and abilities to connect with people in a short time frame.

Campbell, who now works for Grapevine Police as a Telecommunicator, says the constant interactions with people, both good and bad, taught her how to deal with different personalities, and also diffuse stressful situations. She says at the base of any conflict, she overcame by how she treated others: “I spoke to people like they’re not just a number.”

Coffee connoisseurs can be intense and particular about their daily cup of Joe, and Campbell remembers having to problem-solve conflicts, or assist with orders if a favorite flavor was unavailable. She says, “I wanted the two minutes I spent with customers to be a great two minutes.”

Exemplifying high-quality customer service in an extremely short period of time also applies to emergency dispatchers, officially referred to as Telecommunicators. Dispatchers have roughly two minutes with callers, and often during the most high-stressed moments of the caller’s life. Being able to listen to what a caller is saying, and put the caller at ease while still gaining critical information, is a skill that translates perfectly from a customer service role.

While the outcomes are vastly different: one, a customer wanting their favorite mocha instantly from a drive-through, the other, a caller in need of help, the way to serve both is relatively the same. The barista or dispatcher must assess the need quickly, balance the job at hand (whether speaking to the customer and typing in the order, or inputting an address into a computer and sending police or firefighters,) and reach the desired result, whether that be a hazelnut latte with whip, or ensuring police and medics know where to locate a crash victim. The ability to perform multiple jobs at the same time is key, and any job that requires efficient multi-tasking skills could translate into a successful career as a dispatcher.

Employees at both jobs will likely be surrounded by coffee; the stark difference between baristas and dispatchers lies in how their days end. Baristas will go home knowing they made someone’s day better with their favorite drink or snack. Dispatchers will go home knowing they helped a stranger get home alive. They may have taught someone CPR over the phone, sent police to help a domestic violence victim, and helped firefighters reach a burning house before anyone got hurt. They may have done all three in the same shift.

The job of a Telecommunicator, or emergency dispatcher, is not always easy. Some days are tough because lives are on the line, and every second truly counts. The payoff is making a difference in people’s lives, and working with a team of people who care. First responders are a family, and once you’re part of that family, you find the joy and rewards are unmatched anywhere else.

Click here to learn about becoming a Telecommunicator on our Recruiting page.

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