Theresa Carcioppolo is a mom of three grown kids with an expanding family who works for Cobb 911 in Cobb County, Georgia. She has been with the department for 6 years. She also run a non-profit called Scaley Addictions where she shares her love of reptiles.
Join Turbo the tortoise as he learns when and when NOT to call 911.
Published: April 9, 2022
My 5 star review is here.
JRR: Tell us a little about yourself.
Growing up in Germany I always had a love for animals, furry, scaly and even the bugs had a place in my heart. Fast forward I am married and mother to 3 boys all grown and in their 20s with 2 amazing grandchildren and one on the way. My boys and grandkids all share a love for animals of all sorts. I work for 911 in Cobb County, Ga and own Scaley Addictions which is a non-profit reptile rescue. I joke how I save human lives by day and reptile lives by night. Outside of working and saving reptiles, bring them back to health, and adopting them out, we also get hired for parties and events which is how the majority of our funding comes in to help pay for supplies and vet bills.
JRR: You sound like a very busy lady, with the job AND non profit which I am sure is a full time job all on its own! Now, what made you want to write Can I Call 911 Now?
Working at 911 I am on their CORE Team (Community Outreach Recuitment Education). My focus is on kids. But unfortunately we don’t have cool things to share with the kids such as K9, weapons, cool utility belts, cop cars, robots, etc. I was already packing out libraries with our reptile shows, so why not bring 911 in somehow. I realized quickly we have a ton of kids who call 911 (lets face it adults too) with non-emergency topics. Lets bring to light these calls in a book and use my reptiles as the characters. We talk about 911, read the book, and end with a reptile show.
JRR: That all makes sense! Bring your love of reptiles into the mix! And I’m sure the kids love your shows! How long have you been a dispatcher? What made you want to become a dispatcher?
It will be 6 years in November. I was a girl scout leader for a huge troop in Dallas and one of the dads happened to be on the recruitment team for Cobb 911. He said, “Ya know with a mouth like yours you’d make a good dispatcher”. Of course at first I had to think, was this a compliment? From there the rest is history, I applied and long story short here I am, now on the Tactical Dispatch Team, CORE Team, and a trainer.
JRR: He knew what he was doing when he mentioned that to you! And look where you are now! So, how tough is it to be a dispatcher? What would you say to someone who is thinking about becoming a dispatcher?
You MUST be resilient. Folks are not calling us because they are having a good day. We get yelled at and cursed at daily and hear some horrific things at times. But as crazy as it sounds, I love that I get to help folks in their time of need no matter how great or small that need may be. Being the calm voice that reassures them help is coming, walking someone through CPR, birthing babies, reassuring callers when they see their loved on having a seizure and now knowing what to do. It is a job many forget exists. They have to talk to us while they wait for the responders to show up. We are the true first first responder giving aid before help arrives in person.
JRR: I’ve sat in Gwinnett County’s 911 center a few times and I know I couldn’t do it! Bravo for you and all your coworkers who do what most of us couldn’t! Keeping calm during an emergency, and calming someone else down so they can help and let you know what you need, that is something! I’m wondering, What’s your best memory working as a dispatcher?
Walking a 9 year old through his grandfather having a heart attack and hearing him be so brave through it all. He was the perfect caller and followed all of my instructions. Then when responders arrived hearing him finally release his emotions because he knew his grandpa was getting help. As far as other best memories, the great ones are always when I can take a frantic caller into a calmer mode to focus and know help is coming. When adrenaline hits us, even the easiest things are hard to remember and its our job to help them understand the simple things again.
JRR:You are either made for the job or not. And you definitely are made for it! If you are able to tell us, what’s the craziest call you have taken?
Unfortunately, most of those stories are probably inappropriate for the eyes of most readers. We are so used to memory dumping that most of them we don’t remember. We have calls that stick with us due to the horrible situation or what we hear. Hearing someone take their last breathe on the other end of the phone, hearing shots fired, screams, the sobs of loved ones who just had a family member pass…. those are all things we have to be able to not get stuck on as PTSD is a real thing amongst all first responders including dispatchers.
JRR: Again, I have so much respect for you! Now, What can you tell us about the real tortoise named Turbo who is the main character in the book?
Turbo is a female Sulcata tortoise about 5 years old. She came to us with another sulcata half her size named SloMo. Other than being awesome, we used a tortoise as there are not many people out there with a view of tortoises.
JRR: Turbo and SloMo… I love their names!
Theresa and the real Turbo!
JRR: What would you say to someone about calling 911?
Location, location, location…… people think we can just ping there phone and that is not the case. While we do have great resources, we can not track all phones by tower, so people need to be aware of their surroundings. Also, listen to our questions. There is a reason we ask what we ask. Many folks don’t realize we can walk you through handling a seizure, helping someone having a heart attack, stop the bleed to tourniquet application, delivering babies and so much more.
JRR: Location… It’s so true! Often we get on autopilot and forget where we are. I was a victim of a hit and run about 1 1/2 years ago and couldn’t remember exactly where I was. I ran to the nearby neighborhood to get the street signs to tell the operator where I was . You believe I do my best to know and remember where I am!
You have a non-profit called Scaley Addictions. Tell us a little about that and what made you start it?
Having 3 boys it was natural they would be interested in some sort of fuzzy or not critter. Being a scout leader for boys and girls for over 15 years I self taught a lot of things through books, online resources, breeders, pet store owners, etc. We got a bearded dragon and he didn’t look like what we had seen before and that’s when I first found out about MBD, metabolic bone disease. This spiraled into learning all I could about a ton of different reptiles native and non. Then folks would reach out to me about questions about anything reptile related, or to take in their animal they no longer wanted. I also had some I personally wanted that I purchased myself.
Finally after having a bunch of animals, doing shows, etc I realized breeders were not the way to go but to help those animals that are not properly cared for, dumped outside, dumped at stores, left in abandoned homes and apartments when the owners move or they are just surrendered for many reasons as to why they can’t take care of it. Most the time they come in with issues needing to go to the vet and that person didn’t want to come out of pocket.
JRR: I’m sure a lot of people don’t think of reptiles as pets and/ or needing help! Do you have any events coming up in regards to the book and/or Scaley Addictions?
Yes, just go to our Facebook Page Scaley Addictions and look under Events. All of our events that are for the public are listed there.
JRR: You have events coming up very soon, as in next week! Please check out the events tab to see what Scaley Addictions has coming up!
Now…Do you have a favorite reptile?
That’s like asking who is my favorite child…… Titan my rhino iguana, Bowser my Leopart tortoise, Sheldon my 3 legged red foot tortoise….. Yeah, I cant pick….
JRR: Oops! Sorry about that! Is there anything else you want to tell us?
I’d love for folks to go and follow and like our pages on Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok and YouTube. Also, anyone interested in volunteering there is a volunteer form on our website www.scaleyaddictions.com or contact us if they are interested in donating towards our rescue for future patients that come in.
JRR: Thank you so much Theresa! Please check out her website and more!