Aurora Shooting

I will not be using this platform to speak about motives, the suspect, or the eventual politics and finger pointing that is, sadly, inevitable.  I will first refer you to my friend’s post on ambulancedriverfiles.  Kelly speaks eloquently and succinctly and I’m proud to know him.

What I want to focus on is the radio traffic during this tragedy.  What follows is about 16 minutes of police radio traffic.  I strongly urge you to listen to the recording in its entirety.  First responders spend the lion’s share of their day risking their lives for you.  You can spare 16 minutes.

As a police officer and a former dispatcher, I could not be more proud of my brother and sister officers in Aurora, CO.  When met with unbelievable chaos and carnage, the professionalism heard in this recording is inspiring.  There is the occasional panicked moment when an officer can be heard yelling.  That is a normal human reaction when faced with something as heinous as they were experiencing.  You’ll notice that by and large, most of the radio traffic is clear, concise, and given at both a moderate pace and tone.  Perimeters were set up, mutual aid was called for, and updates were given about locations to evacuate the walking wounded.

I’d like to single out the female dispatcher in particular.  Her calm delivery and parroting of officer radio traffic, requests, and updates were given without panic, fear, or anxiety.  Speaking from experience, when I hear a good dispatcher on a hot call, it calms me in a way that isn’t terribly obvious at the time and it allows me to focus on the job at hand.  Her contribution to this call can not be overstated.

When incidents like the shooting in Aurora happen, it has ripple effects that resound all over the world.  We will be hearing about this for weeks to come.  Pundits will pontificate.  Armchair quarterbacks will analyze.  But those cops that responded and the dispatcher that worked the channel?  They’ll be at work.

There will be tears shed by families, friends, and first responders.  While the incident is happening, though, there is no time for tears.  There is time for action.  Calm, efficient, professional action.  This was exemplified by the Aurora PD and their dispatcher.

If you’re reading this post and are a civilian, please realize the inherent difficulty in not only doing what Aurora PD and their fellow first responders did today, but in having to compartmentalize their personal feelings and emotions in order to effectively save lives and apprehend the suspect.

If you’re reading this post and you’re a first responder, please realize that all of our radio traffic should sound like what you just heard.  Do all of us a favor and before you just start yammering away into your mic do two things: 1) depress the mic before you start talking and 2) take a breath first.  The breath takes about a second and will help clear you mind by getting oxygen to your brain.  Think about what you need to say, breathe, and say it as succinctly as you can.  Remember that there are other people at the same detail that may need that air time.

Finally, my prayers are with the people of Aurora and those effected by this terrible event.  I don’t pretend to understand the will of God, but I have to have faith that there is a purpose to it.  To lack that faith would make me question why I do this job.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Snark is encouraged. Being a prat is not.

8 thoughts on “Aurora Shooting

  1. Years ago I applied to be a dispatcher in the (relatively) small town I was living in. Part of the application process included listening to a recorded call with a headset on, treating it as if it was a live call and trying to get the necessary information. The recording included a child screaming and the woman placing the call was crying and hysterical. Despite the fact that I KNEW it wasn’t real – KNEW it was just a recording – my heart started to pound.

    I can’t even begin to imagine how this dispatcher felt, and yet her voice is calm and clear and what she says is concise and precise. All of the first responders are amazing, but I agree that this dispatcher did an absolutely incredible job!

  2. I am amazed at how calm everyone remained during this 16 minutes. Clearly not an easy thing to do when confronted with such horrible circumstances.

  3. The professionalism of all involved amid what must have been adrenaline surging moments is inspiring. And you guys do it every day. My thanks to all who work in emergency services, as I’ve needed them myself.

  4. I too am a former dispatcher and Deputy Sgt. and now a first responder (Chief FF) I agree with you whole heartedly, This dispatcher should be very proud as well as her fellow officers involved. This tape should be heard by all dispaters and first responders. I am very proud of the job done by my brothers and sisters. May God bless all those involved in this misfortunate incident. May peache be with them all.

  5. There is also the phenomenon of people criticizing parents for putting their children in a situation where this happened. It seems any number of mundane thing become deadly stupid when a freak tragedy occurs. I can tell you that I would and have taken babies and toddlers to a movie they would not watch (disruptions are a different matter), in the hopes they would sleep through. There is absolutely no way any of these parents could have imagined such a thing happening. Even so, that last thing they need is half the country blaming them for their loss. Follow the old Kindergraten rule here and if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

  6. As a Paramedic and former dispatcher I agree 100% with your statement about the dispatcher. My wife was listening to this with me and I told her I would love to meet and shake the hand of the dispatcher and also “Lincoln 25”. They could not have handled this situation in more of a professional manner and they could not have done anything better than they did. All the officers radio traffic was amazingly calm and the decision to put injured in squac cars was outside the box and needs to be commended.

    To all my brothers and sisters in uniform: Fire, Police, EMS, and Communications in Aurora, CO. It is OK to shed your tears after a tragedy like this but, hold your heads high. Your decisions and actions are nothing short of heroic and you should be proud of the work you accomplished. You were tested and passed with flying colors…Never, Eve,r Quit and Never Give Up! There is a nation of First Responders pulling for you.

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