NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Dispatch officers are used to getting all types of calls, ranging anywhere from a car crash to a house fire.
However, if you ask anyone of them who worked on Monday, March 27, that day will never compare to anything they have ever experienced.
“At first, I didn’t actually think it was an active shooter, thinking it was a shots [fired] call, something we deal with all the time, ends up being nothing, but immediately I see another call go up on our screen,” remembered Matthew Calub, a 911 dispatcher with Metro Nashville. “It was pretty quickly within the call that we realized this was an actual active shooter call.”
Calub was one of the first to get what would be a wave of calls coming from inside and outside The Covenant School.
“A male and female, and they had six kids outside, and they had the foresight of getting them away from the school, but they actually had suspect information,” which is something Calub said was key to helping officers once they arrived at the school.
Quickly, the phones kept ringing.
“We kept getting more calls and more calls, you realize this is an actual event. So, at that point I’m pulling up the call, getting the closest units I can started to it, and at that point, everybody’s hearing it all over the county,” said Jeff Bolin, an LE Radio Dispatcher.
For the first time, on Tuesday, April 4, News 2 heard from the first responders who answered the unimaginable calls.
“You’re waiting to hear what they’re going to say, what do you need to do, what do you need to send, you take the first call, you don’t know who you’re going to get next. What if you get somebody else in there, or what if you get a parent who just saw it on the news, you don’t know what you’re about to get,” described Heather Easley, a Fire Radio Dispatcher.
Easley remembered the dispatch floor being quiet, as everyone answered the phone, and worked to relay information to the responding officers.
The Covenant School shooting claimed the lives of six people after Audrey Hale shot through the front door and carried out a plan that, according to police, had been in the works for months.
As police were rushing to the school, dispatchers continued to take calls, as they gathered information, and many of them took on the role of comforting those still inside, as they listened to shots ring out.
911 Dispatcher: “Listen to me, if someone comes into the room, you put the phone down and you hide, and you do whatever you have to do in order to keep yourself safe.”
“You can’t un-hear the sounds of yelling, the screaming, parents frantically trying to figure out if it’s their child,” said Easley, as she wiped away tears.
A sigh of relief came when they heard the shooter was stopped, as they counted down the less than 15 minutes it took police.
Now, a sense of togetherness, all three agree this has brought them closer while explaining how teamwork, stopped this tragedy from becoming worse.