A lot's changed since Gary Diegelman became an emergency dispatcher 33 years ago.
When Diegelman started there was one computer in the dispatch center. There was a manual typewriter for incident reports and a handwritten blotter book.
Today, a dispatcher sits in front a multi-line phone with six computer screens to track calls, incidents and the location and availability of first responders.
On his first day on the job, Diegelman was told, "here's a chair. Here's your training manuals. Sit down and shut up."
On his second day on the job, there was only one other dispatcher scheduled to work, Tom Graham (now town justice in Oakfield). Graham turned to Diegelman and said, "I hope you know what you're doing because you've got fire dispatch."
Today, a dispatcher is put through a minimum of four months of training before they're allowed to take calls and make dispatches on their own.
All of the changes that have taken place to make the Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center what it is today is enough change for Diegelman, he said.
"Everybody says you know when it's time, and it's time," Diegelman said during his retirement party at the Sheriff's Office on Park Road. "I've been through so many changes I don't want to go through any more changes. With this new radio system coming and everything else, it's time."
Sheriff Gary Maha praised not only Diegelman's persistence in a very stressful job but the experience and dedication he brought to the department.
"I think he enjoyed the job," Maha said. "He learned a lot and we will miss his experience and his expertise. Like any job, you've got to be able to enjoy the job to be able to stick with it as long as he did."
During his 33 year career, Diegelman received four commendation awards, a certificate of appreciation, a meritorious award for continuous excellence, and a distinguished service award.
The job of a dispatcher alternates between times quiet and calm and then moments if not hours of overwhelming call volume.
Computers, Maha said, haven't necessarily made the job easier. There's more information to track.
It takes a person uniquely suited to the job to make it as a dispatcher, Diegelman said. You've got to be able to handle the lulls as well as the times of frantic work. You've also got to be able to deal with a public that can sometimes be surly and uncooperative.
"You need to be able to hear the public, what they want and be able to help them," Diegelman said. "You get people won don't really know what they want and you need to stir them and help them get to the right spot and then you get people who are belligerent and don't treat you well on the phone and you've got to control your emotions."
And then, he said, "there are a number of people who don't often call an emergency dispatcher and when they do, they want something and they need something and you're the first one they talk to."
The job is all about serving the public, Diegelman said.
One call Diegelman remembers the most is the night a woman called and thought there was an intruder breaking into her house. It's not an unusual kind of call and often such calls prove to be unfounded, but this time, somebody had broken into this woman's house and while Diegelman was still on the phone with her. Somehow during the attack, the intruder realized the woman was on the phone with a 9-1-1 operator and fled.
The intruder was never caught, but the woman suffered no serious injuries and thanked Diegelman later for being there for her.
"You've got to be that person who can take the call and not let it get to you because the next day you've got to go on," Diegelman said.
After 33 years of service, Gary Diegelman will no longer be taking those calls.
LISTEN: Gary DIegelman's final transmission as a dispatcher.