In 30 years as an emergency dispatcher, Steve Robinson has probably handled every imaginable kind of call, first with the City of Batavia and later with the Sheriff's Office -- lost cats, petit larcenies, fires, train derailments, overdoses, homicides, and everything in between.
It's a tough job but on the night of his final shift, he said he is glad he chose the job he did as a young man.
"It's been an amazing career," Robinson said. "I've made a lot of friends -- with other dispatchers, judges, DAs, police officers, EMS, fire -- everybody involved in the whole process. I couldn't have asked for a better career for 30 years. It's not pretty sometimes. We deal with a lot of unpleasant stuff, but we get through it and I appreciate everybody I've worked with, and I've gotten a lot of help over the years."
To be a good dispatcher, Robinson said, you have to be able to multitask. You can find yourself dealing with a police officer on the radio about one call while taking an emergency call from an unrelated incident on 9-1-1.
"There is a lot of activity in the room and you can't rely on somebody else to answer your phone for you," Robinson said.
And because you're sometimes dealing with people in duress, at the worse time of their lives, or who are angry, you have to have good people skills to be a good dispatcher. You have to be able to stay calm, talk people through their situations and ensure first responders are kept safe.
"The people I work with, not just the dispatchers, but the first responders, we have a bond because nobody else understands what we do," Robinson said. "In this job, unless you do it, you can't understand what we deal with and that is what bonds us."
In retirement, Robinson will still be around, and not far from the career he's loved. He will continue to work part time for Batavia PD as a desk clerk.
"I'll keep a hand in the business," Robinson said. "I'm not totally walking away."