WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — This week’s Extraordinary Person of the Week is a voice on the other end of the line. Roscoe Harris is a New Hanover County Public Safety Telecommunicator.
Roscoe Harris is one of many who deal with the worst everyday. “You have to be at your best when the caller is at their worst,” Harris told us. “I had an emergency call where an officer was hit by a vehicle and his voice when it came over the radio, it sent chills through my body because I know he was hurt,” he said as he recounted an accident on Snow’s Cut Bridge going into Pleasure Island.
He’s a voice on the end of a 9-1-1 call, hearing raw emotion, many times left wondering how it all ended.
“Primarily, it’s knowing you did the best you can do,” Harris says. “And that gives me satisfaction because even if I didn’t know the outcome, I know that I tried to get the best help to them to get them to their best outcome.”
That’s one of the tough parts of being a 9-1-1 telecommunicator, sometimes you don’t know how it all ends.
Bu Harris explained how it all begins as he showed us the communication center.
“Right here is the Wilmington Police dispatch, on this side, we have UNCW PD, then Wrightsville Beach PD, here are call take stations, as we come down this way…the fire pod, city and county fire. Over here the EMS console. Then over here we have what is called Pleasure Island with Carolina and Kure Beach.”
A room full of helpful voices and twice as many shoulders to lean on because it’s not exactly easy to be the strong one in an emergency. Sometimes a call can hit home.
“If I see somebody hurting,” Harris says, “I’ll go and go and check on them, and they’ll be able to release some things and get back on the floor.”
When this 14 year 9-1-1 veteran isn’t saving lives, he’s at the pulpit spreading a message.
“I just feel fortunate enough to be able to serve people continuously,” he said as he described his life outside of work at a local church. “I pastor some of the greatest people this side of heaven.”
And if you ask him, he works with some of the greatest, too. “Whether they are relatable to their lifestyle or relatable to their background,” he says, “we have to learn to put those things aside and the people I work with do that greatly.”
Roscoe, and all the 9-1-1 Telecommunicators he represents, are strong when we are weak.
And that….well….that is…Extraordinary.