It was all smiles Thursday in the basement of the Payne County Sheriff’s Office during National Public Safety Telecommunications Week.
The dispatchers took a moment to reflect, but also to celebrate their roles as protecting the county’s law enforcement and the public.
Sheriff R.B. Hauf and Undersheriff Garry McKinnis came to show their support for the 10 dispatchers and Dispatch Supervisor Stacey Nixon.
“We’re here to celebrate those who serve the public,” Nixon said.
The often humbling job of a dispatcher can come to life and death situations.
A powerpoint with two videos displayed “Stupid Dispatchers” and “So the Sheriff Hired a Dispatcher.”
“Stupid Dispatchers” showed some unconditional love toward its caller in a 911 situation, giving them the right to “feel upset, aggravated, frustrated, terrified, utterly overwhelmed or anything else for that matter.”
The sheriff’s office received 22,500 calls for service in 2013. This includes homicides, unattended deaths, assaults and stolen property.
The dispatcher must decide quickly what to do next. They are usually the first point of contact between the public and emergency services, making them an integral part of the sheriff’s office.
Nixon announced that starting next year, the department will award a “Dispatcher of the Year.”
Sheriff R.B. Hauf told the crowd that he used to be a dispatcher.
“Technology has changed things tenfold since then,” he said.
Each dispatcher received a hat or beanie with new county-issued coats.
County Commissioner Chris Redding said he listens to the scanner while he’s at work.
“It’s very clear and professional,” Redding said. “We want to thank you because our guys are being taken care of.”
The Payne County Sheriff’s Office dispatches for the sheriff’s office, Perkins Police Department, Ripley Police Department, Glencoe Police Department and assists the Oklahoma Highway Patrol when not in reach. All cellular 911 calls made in the county are disseminated out to medical, fire, police or the appropriate agency.
Dispatchers Cory Westbrook and Joel Young said the dispatchers rely on each other and have fun despite stressful situations.