Norell Mascolo has been a Yale Public Safety Dispatcher since 2007. Norell is the first point of contact for Yale’s emergency and non-emergency calls. It is a unique occupation requiring efficiency, experience, and compassion. Helping individuals during a difficult or painful experience can be a stressful job, but Norell finds joy in its purpose.
Born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut, Norell attended Eli Whitney Technical High School in Hamden. Following graduation, Norell went from working in a floral shop to being hired at American Medical Response, Inc. (AMR) in New Haven. It was there that her career in emergency medical services began.
After taking AMR’s training courses, she became a 911 Call Receiving Operator. From there, Norell transitioned to being an EMT/Dispatcher. While she tried other aspects of AMR’s business, including insurance processing, business developement, running a New York authorization department, and payroll and scheduling; dispatching was her true calling. Now almost 23 years later, she’s never looked back.
We talked with Norell recently as she reflected on her career, the importance of family, and being a first responder.
What brought you to Yale?
AMR is where I started my career, but it was a stepping-stone. When the position at Yale became available, it seemed like a positive career change for me and beneficial for my family. The atmosphere at the Yale Police Department seemed welcoming and upbeat—it was and still is! Plus, their communication center, where the dispatchers work, was impressive. I look forward to going to work as I love my job, supervisors, and co-workers. We are a solid team and support each other.
What advice would you give someone considering a job in emergency services?
The most important aspect they would need to consider is the urgent nature of the job. A dispatcher is speaking to individuals at probably one of the worst moments of their lives. Dispatchers need to be calm, quick, and compassionate while thinking a few steps ahead to correctly dispatch the call. I treat every caller like they are family. Most important is to listen to the caller carefully. Also, on-the-job learning is continuous. You will learn and experience something new daily and need to be humble in your approach.
What can you tell us about dispatching that the average person would be surprised to know?
I don’t think people realize that dispatchers are the first, first responders to an emergency via the call. Also, we take ongoing training to stay current on technology and standard operating procedures. Everyday job responsibilities include answering emergency and non-emergency calls, entering the caller’s incident into a computer aided dispatch (CAD) system, and effectively dispatching those calls to our police officers.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
It’s difficult not to have closure after receiving and dispatching a call. You don’t know what the future holds for that person, you can only hope for the best outcome possible. Also, keeping our officers safe, and from a dispatcher’s standpoint, that means gathering and letting them know as much about the situation as possible so they can be prepared.
Favorite part of your job?
I like knowing that I was able to help someone no matter how large or small the issue. Realizing that I impacted someone’s life selfishly makes me feel good.
Favorite childhood memory?
When I was young, I loved spending time with my grandparents. They lived in New Haven on Eastern Street. They had a big garden that I’d help them tend each summer. They were Italian-American and taught me how to cook delicious family recipes.
What are you watching, reading, or listening to?
Currently, I’m mostly watching the latest Disney movies and reading children’s books with my youngest.
Tell us a few fun facts about yourself.
My husband Daniel, who is a lieutenant in the Westport Fire Department, and I have five children ranging in age from six to 28, and a six-month-old grandson who keeps us busy with family activities. I have a son with Down Syndrome so adovating for people with special needs to create a more inclusive and accessible world is a passion of mine. I have a hobby farm at home that includes goats, chickens, and turkeys, so we spend a good deal of time out in the yard taking care of the animals.