After 30 years of answering phones, one woman is starting a new chapter of her life.
In less than two weeks, 911 Roanoke city dispatcher Cyndi Bowles will retire.
It’s a bitter sweet time for the Roanoke native. Bowles witnessed a number of changes within the walls of the call center, but now it's time to make a change for herself.
She has a voice thousands of people have heard and a face not many have seen.
"I never thought I'd stay this long,” said Bowles. “I really didn't."
After 30 years of public service, Bowles is hanging up her headset.
"You're bombarded constantly with people in their worst element,” she said.
Bowles first started working as a dispatcher in 1984. She was 23-years-old and working long shifts on what is now considered an antiquated system.
"When I first started there were no cell phones, no CAD, no computer aided dispatch or GPS."
But there was paper.
Bowles said she spent the 80's hand writing emergencies on carbon copy paper and calling police officers, firefighters and medics to get them to a scene.
"When we had a call we had a list and we went from top of the list down and started calling until we could get a crew together,” she said.
It was the early 90's when the city of Roanoke went online and dispatching became easier and more importantly - faster.
“Wow,” she said. “It was a huge impact. Being able to track home phones, know when people are that couldn't speak. Sometimes you just hear an emergency. There's a lot of screaming and yelling."
And that's why Bowles said it takes a special person to do the job.
She's taken calls from complete strangers for the past 30 years and while most jobs have their ups and downs, Bowles said dispatching takes it to whole new level.
"We don't get a conclusion to the problem,” she said. “We don't hear what happened later on so you are just one right after another."
But Bowles will stop taking calls in just a few days.
She said she's looking forward to a new beginning and will always look back on the countless number of lives saved because of the work done within the call center walls.
"Sometimes it helps cause I like to think they all have happy endings, that justice prevails and it's one of the ways I get through it.”
Bowles last day is July 31.