First Responders: Dispatcher Josh Hollingshead
MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - In our latest First Responders, we meet Josh Hollingshead who is a dispatcher at Lauderdale County’s E-911.
“When I first got this job it was for the money. Now, I love serving and helping people,” Hollingshead said. “If I’m off or I take a vacation, I feel like I missed out. So much Happens.”
Hollingshead said working in public service never crossed his mind. He applied to become a state correctional officer only because they were hiring quickly. He spent a total of eight years working in that field before becoming a dispatcher in Lauderdale County.
“I’ve always kind of had this pull to danger. I’ve always kind of done that, but this was a little different for me. Taking that step and coming here was not like anything I’ve done before,” Hollingshead said.
Hollingshead said he wasn’t even interested in dispatching, but now he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s been one of the greatest gifts in my life. I’ve always struggled with trying to find purpose and fulfillment. This job takes care of those, purpose and fulfillment,” Hollingshead explained.
From taking the initial 911 call, sending police, fire or EMS to recording radio traffic during an incident, there is still a big question mark surrounding the outcome of the incident. Hollingshead says not knowing the results can be a challenge.
“When we send EMS out for a three year old child, we don’t know what happened afterward. That’s some stuff that we take home,” Hollingshead said.
Aside from dispatching, Hollingshead is the men’s ministry leader of Celebrate Recovery at NorthPark Church in Meridian. For the past two years he’s hosted a podcast called “Unashamed Recovery Podcast”. It focuses on addiction recovery and helping people find hope through talking and relating.
“People come in and talk about how they got started in addiction and how it affected them. They talk about how it took them to rock bottom and then how they recovered and what they’re doing to stay sober,” Hollingshead said.
He is married and has two daughters.
“My wife has been supportive of this ever since I started,” Hollingshead explained.
Dispatchers give a new meaning to the term multitasking. It’s seriously like mental gymnastics. They are on the phone, inputting information, calming 911 callers and dispatching first responders simultaneously.
Hollingshead said it’s important for people to answer questions when they call 911. He said it’s not like television, dispatchers don’t automatically know where you’re located. He said it’s best to make sure you know your surroundings at all times to ensure a swift response time if you need to call emergency services.
“I love it. It’s one of those things where I love getting up and coming to work,” Hollingshead said.
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