Sonia Moeller Photo courtesy of the Brunswick Police Department

Sonia Moeller, the Brunswick Police Department’s first communications officer, retired Tuesday after 35 years serving the community as a 911 dispatcher.

For more than three decades, Moeller’s voice is what Brunswick residents heard when they called 911. She, alongside her fellow dispatchers, was responsible for sending callers whatever emergency services they needed and keeping the caller calm before help arrived.

“As a dispatcher, the lives of other people are in your hands,” said Moeller. “We’re the ones who gather information, maintain control of a situation and relay pertinent information to first responders. We’re the best-kept secret in public safety.”

Raised in Bowdoinham, Moeller is no stranger to public service. Moeller’s father was a Bowdoinham fire chief and her brother is the current Bowdoinham fire chief. She grew up with a “red phone” that rang when firefighters needed to be dispatched to a fire, in her home.

Moeller began as a school crossing guard in 1983, then became a parking enforcement officer in 1987 before finally settling into her role as communications officer two years later.

Though the job of a dispatcher is fast-paced, and no two calls are the same, Moeller said the responsibility of guiding people through what could be the worst day of their life coupled with ever-changing technology makes the career anything but easy and takes a tremendous amount of empathy.


“You never know what’s going to happen when you pick up the phone,” said Moeller. “You could have anything from dead silence to someone screaming their head off.”

Moeller said the most frustrating part of the job is dispatchers rarely get closure after they assist someone.

“When we take the call, we’re dealing with the initial frustration, anger, or sadness of the people dialing 911,” said Moeller. “We get them calmed down and get responders on the way, and once they arrive on the scene, we hang up and move onto the next one, and the next one could be just as traumatic.”

The hardest days on the job, Moeller said, have been the few times a Brunswick officer died in the line of duty. The one that sticks out the most is September 30, 1990 when Brunswick police officer James Swint died in a car crash. He hit a telephone pole when he swerved to avoid hitting another car during a vehicle pursuit, and she answered the 911 call about the accident.

“Our ultimate goal is for everyone to go home safe, and that includes responders and the public,” said Moeller. “Everyone should be able to go home to their families happy and healthy, but that’s not the reality of our day-to-day job.”

Still, Moeller said she found joy in the days she knew she helped someone and made a difference in their lives. Though follow-up doesn’t happen often, the times she heard someone made it out of a scary situation alive buoyed her, she said.

While she doesn’t know what’s next for her, Moeller said she hopes she’s remembered as “someone who cared.”

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