The first, first responders: Local dispatchers honored with national awareness week

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WEST MICHIGAN – The faces we don’t see during an emergency, may be the most important. All around the country last week, dispatchers were honored for their lifesaving commitments through National Public Safety Telecommunications Week.

“I just love to be here to see how they do it.,” said Ionia Central Dispatch Director Jim Valentine. “It’s just amazing how they make it all work.”

And make it work, they do. Handling double duty on most calls, calming citizens caught in an emergency and directing other first responders, dispatchers are the calm and level headed first line of communication when disaster strikes.

“If I were in this job to be thanked, I chose the wrong profession,” said Polly Hooker, a 14-year veteran of the Ottawa County Central Dispatch Authority. “You want to be empathetic to a certain degree. We have to understand what the caller is going through, but we can’t let that override our own sense of duty and getting the job done.”

Dispatch centers nationwide took pause in between their respective shifts to last week for food, raffles, ceremonies honoring distinguished employees, and some well-deserved pats on the back.

“These people are here because they care about the community,” said Mayor Nancy DeBoer of Holland.  “They have a particular gift set that allows them to be able to handle other people’s emergencies in a calm, reasonable, intelligent fashion.”

For more information on National Public Safety Telecommunications Week, click here.

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