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A Day in the Life of a 911 Communications Center Supervisor

November 8, 2023

By: Kati Davich, Emergency Preparedness Planning and Policy Manager, Port of Seattle

Interview with Jenny Murry, 911 Communications Center Supervisor

What is the 911 Communications Center?

The Port of Seattle 911 Communications Center handles all emergent and nonemergent calls for the Port of Seattle Police and Fire departments.

Interesting fact: The Port’s Fire Department serves Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). The Port’s Police Department has a wide jurisdiction and covers a number of SEA Airport and Maritime facilities including:

  • SEA Airport
  • The Port headquarters on Pier 69
  • All Maritime properties like the cruise terminals, Shilshole Bay Marina and other recreational boating marinas, Fishermen’s Terminal, and other commercial facilities

The Port’s 911 Communications Center is a relatively small center with three dispatchers working at a time. The center is located at SEA Airport and the staff is very familiar with its facilities and operations. Because the three dispatchers handle all emergent and nonemergent calls from this large jurisdiction, the center can get very busy, which is why callers are sometimes put on hold. The staff appreciates your patience and will get to each call as soon as possible.

What happens when you call 911 at Port facilities? 

Unless you are calling from a Port of Seattle-provisioned landline, your 911 call will be answered by the King County 911 Communications Center. If you know you’re at a Port facility, you can ask to be transferred to the Port of Seattle 911 Communications Center immediately. Otherwise, the King County dispatcher may transfer you once they understand where the response is needed.

The 911 Communications team are the people who answer the phone and dispatch first responders when you call to report:

  • Medical events and injuries at SEA Airport
  • A fire or HAZMAT incident at the airport
  • Security incidents at all Port and airport properties
  • Theft or break-ins at all Port and airport properties
  •  And more

The 911 dispatchers will also request mutual aid resources when an incident requires more responders and equipment than the Port has.


Information you will need when you call

  • SEA Airport is large, so be ready to share your specific location with more detail like the concourse, nearest gate number, restaurant or shop name, or checkpoint number
  • Be ready to answer a required set of questions the dispatchers need to ask to triage calls. Answering these questions does not delay help. The questions might sound pointed or overly descriptive/personal, but asking these questions is required to expedite the response and keep everyone safe

What’s it like to work in the 911 Communications Center?

Jenny Murry is one of three 911 Communications Center supervisors. She first joined the Port in 2008 after working as a designer and estimator for a construction company. She was looking for a new opportunity during the economic downturn and knew people in the public safety industry.

Stacy Wassall, Manager, and Ashley Schultz, Supervisor, team up to oversee the 911 Communications Center team of 18 dispatchers.

Jenny loves being able to work with the dispatchers and improve their work experience through standardizing procedures, improving processes, and implementing new technologies.

Jenny is the center’s subject matter expert for fire emergencies. She works three 12-hour shifts, four hours of make-up time, and takes a turn being on call each week.

Here is how Jenny spends a typical day!decorative

8:00 a.m.

I wake up, let out the dog, go for a run, and check in on my kids.

12:00 p.m.

I arrive at the 911 Communications Center to start my day. My first four hours are filled with meetings because that’s the part of my shift that intersects with the standard workday. The meetings are focused on operational and technical improvements.

4:00 p.m.

From 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. I review call data, work on improvement projects, and collect and analyze data on recent calls to the center. The most frequent calls the center receives are from people reporting medical emergencies, disturbances, and lost/stolen items. Responding to the less frequent aircraft emergency calls is the most interesting to me.

10:00 p.m.

I work on the floor supporting the dispatchers during the last part of my shift. A common scenario is fielding a medical call. Dispatchers use a standardized medical triage tool to determine the appropriate Fire Department/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) response. The more ill or injured the subject is, the more resources get dispatched to assist.

At any time, if there is a large emergency, I would be responsible for managing the radio channels, paging employees to get more resources, notifying other local government emergency departments who can help with incident response, and coordinating at the incident command level.

12:00 a.m.

I head home and immediately go to bed so I’m ready to do it all again the next day.

Learn more

If you’re interested in joining the Port’s 911 Communications Center team applicants must complete pre-hire testing and an interview. Once they’re hired, dispatchers complete a training program. After dispatchers have several years of experience, they may apply for a supervisor position.

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