|
|
|
|
The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • The 'life line' of emergencies

  • Wendy Burr and Hans Stephensen said there aren't too many situations they haven't dealt with as Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office dispatchers.
    • email print
  • Wendy Burr and Hans Stephensen said there aren't too many situations they haven't dealt with as Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office dispatchers.
    "We get everything," Burr said.
    They've had calls ranging from problems with raccoons to multi-vehicle crashes to suicidal people.
    Stephensen said he even received an inquiry about the proper temperature for cooking a turkey.
    "I had that one on Thanksgiving," he said.
    Stephensen said 911 dispatchers operate as the nerve center for emergencies.
    "All the stuff comes through us first," he said.
    Dispatchers around the country are being recognized this week, designated as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.
    Burr and Stephensen are among the 13 dispatchers employed by the Sheriff's Office, but dispatchers handle calls for more than just the Sheriff's Office. They provide dispatch services for other law enforcement agencies in the county as well as Leavenworth County EMS and multiple fire departments.
    "They're kind of the unsung hero of the agency," Sheriff Andy Dedeke said.
    "They get to talk to the intoxicated person, the frightened person, the very agitated person."
    Dedeke said he believes dispatchers sometimes are taken for granted not only by the public, but the emergency responders on the other end of the radios.
    He said Sheriff's Office personnel would be unable to perform their duties without dispatchers.
    "They are our life line," he said.
    Dedeke said it takes a special person to do the job, and there's no formal education that prepares someone to be a dispatcher.
    He said dispatchers essentially are people who thrive on stress, and in today's world, have an aptitude for computers.
    Stephensen, who's been a dispatcher for three years, said he enjoys the job because every day is different and he likes helping people.
    If Sheriff's Office dispatchers aren't "super busy," they will try to help people who call in with questions that aren't related to emergency services, Stephensen said.
    He even has looked up information on the Internet to try to provide an answer to a caller's concern about fish dying in a pond.
    "If we can, we'll always try to help them," he said.
    Burr said dispatchers receive a lot of "pocket dial" 911 calls.
    They also sometimes receive accidental 911 calls from old cell phones that parents have given to children to play with.
    Burr said if a cell phone still has a battery, it can be used to make 911 calls, even if the service has been discontinued.
    Stephensen said it typically takes about six months to train a dispatcher.
    Page 2 of 2 - Sheriff's Office dispatchers work in the same room in the Justice Center as dispatchers for the Leavenworth Police Department.
    Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens said his department has 11 dispatchers.
    They handle calls for the Leavenworth police and fire departments.
    Kitchens said he believes dispatchers make up the most underrated part of law enforcement.
    "They just do an enormous service," he said.
      • calendar