Emergency dispatchers normally work in the background, but, at least this week, they've been nudged into the spotlight.
Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers Joleen Kinsel and Bill Rowe won the northeast regional Smart911 Telecommunicator Award, earning two plaques and a $500 donation for the county’s Operation Feed.
The entire sheriff’s office dispatch department earned a gold ribbon award from the Ohio chapters of the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials and the National Emergency Number Association.
And, the Cambridge division of the Ohio Highway Patrol earned an APCO/NENA gold ribbon award.
To make it more fitting, April 8 through today is National Telecommunicators Week.
The awards can be traced back to Oct. 18, when Terry Thompson released 56 exotic animals from his Kopchak Road farm then shot himself.
Not only did the dispatchers handle all of the emergency calls that night and keep track of the deputies, they also handled many calls from angry, sometimes hateful, people in the days that followed, said Kim Hambel, sheriff’s office director of operations.
For the Cambridge dispatchers, they played a big role in helping direct and control traffic during the incident, Hambel said.
“We’re always behind the scenes and stuff, and it’s what we do every day,” he said. “It was nice to be able to recognize all the dispatchers, because they all played a part. Both awards go out to all the dispatchers.”
For Kinsel, getting awards for what she does is a different experience.
“It’s very humbling,” she said.
Kinsel doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about Oct. 18, but it comes up every now and then, she said — especially lately with the awards.
In the aftermath, she said, it was most difficult dealing with upset callers, she said. But on the 18th, “that night, the hardest part was just wondering if all your guys were OK, because there was so much crossfire.”
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Get the latest from Rave delivered straight to your inbox
Confidentiality Guaranteed Your information is never shared.