Dispatchers recognized for important work

Published: Apr. 13, 2016 at 10:05 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 3, 2016 at 10:41 PM CDT
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Lawton dispatch (Source KSWO)
Lawton dispatch (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - When you call 911, the dispatchers on the line figure out your emergency and get the information to the right people, whether that be highway patrol, police, sheriff or fire departments.

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week is set aside as a special time to thank them for their work.

There are more than 100,000 dispatchers around the country who remain nameless behind the scenes, but are an absolute necessity.

Dispatchers take every call that come in and get right to work on finding a problem. They will find where and what the emergency is and get the correct department headed that way to help out. They're constantly answering calls, monitoring the locations of emergency personnel and listening to the radios.

Leah Vannoy is the day shift supervisor in the Lawton Dispatch Center and says most people don't realize how tough of a job it is.

"It is a very taxing job, so it's not for everybody. But we love what we do and we embrace people who want to come in with open arms and want to make sure that they're able to do the job," Vannoy said.

The dispatchers don't just stick to those answering 911 calls, though as some emergencies are referred to Oklahoma Highway Patrol or the sheriff's office.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Tyrone Dixon says the dispatchers do way more than simply answer the phones.

"Anything with weather conditions to traffic conditions, as well as possible threats to us where the subject might have a gun, any type of weapons involved. To also road conditions, stuff like that. They are an indispensable part of our team," Trooper Dixon said.

Sergeant Kami Hamman is an OHP dispatcher and says it is nice to see dispatchers across the country being appreciated.

"This is all I've ever done and I don't feel like a hero. I just do what I do because I want to help people. I don't do it for the recognition," Sgt. Hamman said.

Fortunately, there are plenty of people like Hamman who help the public day in and day out. However, City of Lawton Emergency Communications Manager Derrell Morgan wonders what it would be like if there weren't.

"Whatever scenario you have, maybe three guys are about to jump you and beat you up or a loved one was having a heart attack, imagine whatever your worst case scenario is and you call 911 and nobody answers," Morgan said.

The dispatchers truly appreciate the recognition, but it has absolutely nothing to do with why they do the job.

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