“I’m 42 years old, and I’ve heard the rain for the first time,” Co-workers help save deaf Norman dispatcher’s job

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NORMAN, Okla. - A 911 Norman dispatcher nearly quit his job after losing his ability to hear, but his co-workers pulled together to help save his job.

David Grissam has been dispatching for Norman for 20 years.

"To be here, I can help so many people just with my voice, with just hearing their need and answering their questions," Grissam said.

Grissam has been legally deaf since age six.

For most of his career, he has been using hearing aids to answer calls for help but, about three years ago, listening really became a challenge.

Doctors had to go in and remove a non-cancerous tumor in his ear.

"In doing so, they removed quite a bit of my hearing bones in there," Grissam said.

After that, his hearing aids no longer worked, and he was close to quitting his job.

"Just because I work with all the officers, and they’re all my good friends, and I don't want to get any of them hurt with me missing something or interpreting something different," Grissam said.

So, determined not to lose a great co-worker, his office teamed up to help get him a Cochlear Baha hearing system - a device that is implanted in his head and connects to Bluetooth.

Through his phone, he connects to the 911 center’s radios and telephones.

Grissam said he can now hear better than ever.

"I'm 42 years old, and I've heard the rain for the first time," Grissam said.

"There's little noises that go on in here all the time. It's funny. He finally gets to realize what's going on," said Russell Anderson, Grissam’s supervisor.

The system costs about $12,000.

The city of Norman helped pay about $2,000.

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