Sunday, November 9, 2008

The board.

Back in the day, the board was a clip board, now it's the desktop in front of the guy on the radio. On it he has all the slips for the rides that haven't been assigned, laid out sort of like a game of solitare. There will be single slips, and little columns of slips. A column of slips is a run. An example of a run might be these calls, 820 Williamson to 1400 Regent, The Comeback to Ian's, and The Cardinal (2) to Wando's. That run would be 4 people, a load. The dispatcher would read it off as, "3 calls, a load, starting in the 800 Willimason, ending the stadium."

The guy answering the phone writes down the time, the source of the ride, the destination, and number of people on a 3" x 3" slip of paper. The pad of paper is on a clip board. He rips the slip off and slides it through an opening like a tellers window, this is refered to as sliding it through or sliding it under the glass. So when the dispatcher says, "And sliding across is.....", that's a brand new call.

Back in the day, the same guy answered the phone and handled the radio. All the rides he needed to assign would fit under a rubberband that they had on the clipboard running from top to bottom. When there were no slips under the rubber band, you had a clear board. The rubber band is still there today, but only when it's really really slow do slips ever get tucked under it. Today, clear board still means no slips, but what they're really talking about is the desktop in front of the dispatcher.

Have I ever read off the board? Sure. Every driver who is willing to sit behind that mike for a minute has. Can I read it off fast? About the 3rd time I read the same board off, I can say it pretty fast. Can I dispatch competently? No.

When drivers bid on the calls on the board, frequently 2 or more drivers will try to talk at the same time. This results in garbled transmission, much like AM radio with one station washing over another. So the dispatcher will hear a little sliver of a voice he knows, and he'll come back with, "Come in 80." 80 will come in and tell him what he's doing and where he is, and if he heard another voice, or a little piece of a number, he'll then perhaps say, "Now try it number ending in 3." 63 will respond. Then he might say, "Try it R. C.", and I'll come in. Then he may say, "try it even number in the 90's." Dispatching isn't easy when it's busy.

No comments: