After 31 years answering 911 calls in Manatee County, dispatcher retires

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“Having been in the field yourself, you understood the brotherhood that we shared. You always had our backs. You kept us safe for the last 30 years. We will certainly miss the voice of the Manatee County fire radio.”

Those were the parting words for a 31 year veteran of Manatee County dispatch.

On Thursday, the day of his retirement, John Mercer received his final send-off from those he's worked with for decades.

Mercer has seen a lot of changes since he started with dispatch but one thing has remained the same: He's been the calming voice for many and often the first one with information for law enforcement throughout Manatee County.

Over the years, he's used his knowledge to help educate future generations of dispatchers.

“You’ve got to treat it one call at a time. You don’t let the call dictate. There’s no sense in getting excited. I’m willing to help the next generation and anyone I can,” Mercer said.

John has a total of 35 years in dispatch.

He worked in Buffalo New York before moving to Manatee County.

As he left emergency services Thursday, a line of first responders greeted him as he headed home.

Instead of just driving by, he got out and thanked each one for what they do.

John says he looks forward to traveling and spending time with his children now that he’s retired.