A look inside the Calcasieu E-911 center - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

A look inside the Calcasieu E-911 center

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Long before the police cars, fire trucks and ambulances comes a call.

Kristina Haverkamp has worked as a 911 operator in Calcasieu Parish for nine and a half years.

She is one of the people on the other end of the line in an emergency.

"We take the disjointed, emotionally charged information that we're given in the heat of an emergency situation ... find out who you are, where you are and what you need ... and all of that can be very difficult," said Haverkamp.   

A year-long training academy teaches operators how to answer multiple call types, work the data entry systems and dispatch the appropriate agencies. 

Executive Director of the center, Robert Martin, said that based on the averages, call volume in Calcasieu Parish is where it should be based on the population.

In 2012, the center logged roughly 188,000 calls, which breaks down to about one call per person. 

With 500-700 calls coming in per day, the hub often hears their fare share of non-emergency calls. 

"This man, it was an emergency that cable TV was out and he had bet on the game," said Martin. "It was not an emergency."

But the operators, trained to treat each call with a certain level of caution, aren't the jury or the judge. 

"You don't want to lose that human touch," said Haverkamp. "You want to remember that this could be your mom, this could be your dad, your grandmother your cousin having these problems."

It's the feelings of accomplishment and service that keep operators like Kristina loving her job. 

"I leave here everyday feeling like I did something positive," she said. 

It's the leaving that is sometimes the hardest part. 

"Not knowing what happened at the end of the call ... whether or not that 3-year-old that got hit by the car lived ... or if the house that was on fire - if they managed to save it or not," Haverkamp said. "Going home and not knowing sometimes is hard."

An ending they can never tell, to a beginning they'll never forget.

Martin reminds that individuals may face criminal action if dialing 911 in jest. 

April 15-19 is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. 

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