In Memoriam

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In Loving Memory

 Jack Dark

John Eugene Carlos "Jack" Dark

November 12, 1963 - January 3, 2014

Quiet, Meek, and Humble are just a few words that come to mind when we think of John "Jack" Dark.  For over 28 years Jack served the community and was a Senior 911 telecommunicator.  He was a Supervisor and a trusted leader for his team.  Even in the toughest and most stressful situations, Jack was the calm in the storm.  He knew how to bring a situation under control and how to add a sense of calm to the chaos.  It was often said that he could do his job blindfolded.  Jack always wanted to be a pilot and fly. He loved technology, photography, and the newest gadgets and upgrades.  He was a die hard Duke fan and could often be spotted taking pictures of his children at their sporting activities. 

Jack and his son

Jack was laid to rest on Tuesday, January 7, 2014.  The service was held at 12 Noon at Mt. Sinai AME Church in Pittsboro with the Interment following at the Pittsboro Community Cemetery.  During the service, a proclamation issued by Pittsboro Mayor, William Terry was read aloud proclaiming January 7, 2014 as John "Jack" Dark Appreciation Day in the town of Pittsboro.  A copy of the proclamation can be viewed here.

On Tuesday evening, January 21, 2014, the Chatham County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution to officially rename the 9-1-1 Back-up Center in Siler City to the Jack Dark Center.  A copy of the resolution can be viewed here.

Close up of Sign Rear of Jack Dark Center

Excerpt from "And God Created Dispatchers" that was read at Jack's funeral:

A Dispatcher has 5 hands – one for answering the phone, two for typing, one for answering the radio, and one for grabbing a cup of coffee. The arms had to be placed fairly carefully since all the tasks a dispatcher does, have to be done simultaneously.

 The digestive system is a little complicated, it runs on coffee, and food that can be delivered, but seldom needs to get up to go to the bathroom. Their skin is tempered duralite covered with Teflon. A dispatcher hide has to be tough enough to withstand darts from cranky officers, shots from the medics, hellfire from the firefighters, jabs from citizens, and lack of attention by the administration, but not show any signs of wear and tear. Unlike a police officer, it only needs one pair of eyes, so that left room for the ears.

There are five sets of ears – one set for the telephone, one for the main radio, two for the other radios the dispatcher has to monitor, and one to hear everything else going on. They fit all right on the head, since it had to be extra large for the brain.

 

The brain has to be enormous so it can remember a full set of 10 codes, phonetic alphabet, at least two hundred different voices, the entire contents of three different SOP manuals, two teletype manuals, and an NCIC code book. Of course I left enough extra space for it to learn the individual quirks of every different SGT., LT., Shift Commander, Battalion Chief, and other supervisors, and the ability to keep them all straight. There also has to be room for it to learn which situations need an officer and which don’t, and also the ability to determine in less than two minutes what to do for any given event. There is a built in condenser so it can take an hour long explanation, pit it into 30 seconds worth of radio transmission, but still get the whole story across. Those switches on the front are for the emotions. It has to be able to talk to a mother who’s child has just died without pain, a rape victim with empathy, a suicidal person with calmness and reassurance, and an abusive drunk without getting angry. When one of the officers yells for help, it can’t panic, and when someone doesn’t make it, the dispatcher’s heart must not break. The little soft spot just to the left of the emotion switch is for abandoned animals, frightened children, and little old ladies who are lonely and just want to talk to someone for a few minutes. The dispatcher has to care very much for the officer and firefighters it serves, without getting personally involved with any of them, so I added another switch for that. Plus of course, the dispatcher can’t have any of its own issues to worry about while it is on duty, so that last switch turns those off. The patience switch is turned up to high all the time on the CTO model, and I’ve added an extra fuse to those to handle the overload.

A dispatcher has to able to function efficiently under less than good physical conditions, and be flexible enough to withstand whatever whim the administration comes up with, while still retaining its general shape and form. That warm fuzzy shoulder is there for officers to use when they gripe, other dispatchers when they hurt, and for those who are shell shocked by a horrible call and just need someone to be there.

The voice has to be clear and easy to understand, calm and even when everyone else is screaming, but still able to convey empathy and caring while remaining totally professional. It runs for a full 12 hours on very little sleep, requires almost no days off, and gets paid less than a secretary.  Dispatchers are invisible unless they make a mistake. So it’s practically impossible to tell when they are run down, worn out or in need of repair.

  
 Jack and Aria  Fallen Dispatcher  Jack Dark

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