LOCK HAVEN – You don’t know their names, you couldn’t recognize their faces walking down the street. But, if you’ve ever faced an emergency, you’ve heard their voices.
Clinton County 911 dispatchers are often the unsung heroes of emergency personnel. Offering a lifeline…a tether to reality in the face of life-changing situations. The job is not easy as these men and women are helping the people of the county through their worst days. But they are proud to do so.
On Thursday, county commissioners honored those individuals by proclaiming April 11-17 National Public Safety Carriers Week.
“Public safety telecommunications operators are the only lifeline for our police and firefighters by monitoring their radio activities, providing them with information and ensuring their safety. (They) have been instrumental in apprehending criminals, putting out fires and treating patients,” Commissioner Angela Harding read the proclamation. “Each dispatcher has demonstrated compassion, understanding and professionalism in performing their jobs over the past year and years past.”
Andrew Kremser, director of the county’s Department of Emergency Services, thanked the staff, many of whom were able to attend the meeting.
“They are the faceless heroes of Clinton County, quiet voices on the other end of the line when someone calls for an emergency. They work holidays, weekends and long days away from family to ensure the citizens of Clinton County get the help they need in the event of an emergency,” said Kremser.
Kremser said dispatchers coached people through CPR, gave instructions on how to deliver babies and repeatedly deterred people from committing suicide while directing firefighters, EMS and law enforcement. order.
“I want to thank you all for your commitment, your dedication and your sacrifice”, he said. “Most importantly, I want to thank you for your service to our community.”
Each commissioner offered his own thanks, for himself and for the people of Clinton County.
“I know your faces are not there. But your voice is. On behalf of the citizens of Clinton County, we thank you. It’s very, very important work and I think it goes unnoticed most of the time. said board chairman Miles Kessinger.
Harding offered recent statistics regarding the county’s emergency dispatch.
“Since January 2022, our dispatchers here in Clinton County have taken approximately 20 suicide calls. They took 65 domestic violence calls. Their work is not easy and we thank them for it. she says.
Commissioner Jeff Snyder noted that the board spent time at the dispatch center to get a better idea of what the job entails.
“The marshals all took the time to go up to the center and sit next to the dispatcher to realize how complicated the job is. We have had a better understanding of the work you have, and we have a greater appreciation of what you do,” he said. “We certainly appreciate, on behalf of the citizens of the county, what you are doing.”
The dispatchers who attended the meeting resumed work shortly after the meeting ended.
Many of those in the department had previously been in the emergency services field.
Shift supervisor Chris Rupert said the 10-hour department is split into two 12-hour shifts — one from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and another from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Rupert, who has worked full-time for the department since 2009, entered emergency response as a teenager.
“I started as a junior (firefighter) at 14. I took my EMT course and continued to maintain my volunteer status (over the years),” he said.
Rupert started at the County Shipping Department on a part-time basis before becoming full-time.
“I applied here part-time because I was interested in public safety and helping the community,” he said. “I got a full-time job in 2009 and it’s been 15 years already.”
Rupert said the job involved a lot of behind-the-scenes work beyond just answering phone calls. This includes follow-up calls and ensuring all details can be worked out with response personnel.
“There is a lot of training involved where we update current standards with technology and learn new things about how to handle police emergencies, fire emergencies and ambulance calls,” he said.
Rupert encourages community members not to be afraid to call 911 in an emergency.
“We are always there for anyone in need. Don’t feel embarrassed, we’re here to help. When you call 911, it’s the worst time of the day… get the help you need,” he said.
911 dispatcher Derek Hoover has worked for the service for five years. “I’ve always been involved in emergency services and wanted to try something different,” he said.
Hoover said the job is difficult but extremely crucial.
“It’s definitely a stressful job (with) a lot of long hours. We work a lot on holidays, weekends and we spend a lot of time away from our families,” he said.
Kremser said it takes the right person for the job.
“Because you don’t know what that call will be. “ he said.
Kremser went on to say that many dispatchers had to take countless suicide calls. “We’ve actually had dispatchers take calls that lead to the person on the other end of the call taking their last breath,” he said. “As Derek mentioned, it’s a very stressful job.”
Kremser said dispatchers are the part of the emergency service that often goes unnoticed but is extremely crucial.
“It’s the part of emergency services and public safety that you don’t see face to face,” he said.
The department currently has 10 dispatchers – two still in training, with the possibility of having 13.