"Those who do this line of work know that we are the last ones to get thanked," said Pat Blevins, Barry County E-911 dispatching operations manager. "We often hear about the wonderful job that our firefighters and officers have done, but you don't usually hear about the great work done by our communicators.
"Our dispatchers do a great job every day," said Blevins. "Coverage is a huge problem when you are working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I have often had dispatchers come in on their days off or cut their vacations short to help out."
Blevins presented several awards to members of the dispatching team. Those awards included: Stuart Lombard, the person who is most enjoyable to work a shift with; Susan Carroll, best radio voice; Eddie Laning, the person who answers the most calls; Lisa Slater, donation award.
Heather Reusser, outstanding new hire; Chris Wages, Mr. Fix-It Award; Melissa Scott, certificate of achievement for updating the training manuals; Janell Brattin, best attitude; Carrie Jabben, blooper call of the year; and Tony Hinkle, the person who takes the least amount of sick time and works the most overtime.
Hinkle worked over 166 hours of overtime last year. Other staff members who worked overtime included: Blevins, 23.8 hours; Brattin, 1.3 hours; Carroll, 197.2 hours; Jabben, 107.1 hours; Laning, 128.7 hours; Lombard, 79.2 hours; Reusser, 99.7 hours; Scott, 124.7 hours; Lisa Swader, 143 hours; and Wages, 132.6 hours.
"Dispatchers take every call and dispatch the appropriate unit to every call that is made, emergency and non-emergency calls," said Mike Phillips, Barry County E-911 executive director. "Normally they do this without any acknowledgment. National Telecommunicator Week gives them the proper recognition that they deserve. They truly are the first, first responder.
"Dispatchers are required to stay professional, calm and polite with a frantic caller, even when the caller may use foul language and be rude," said Phillips. "A caller might call in after the dispatcher just handled a life threating incident involving someone they know or a child and they are expected to assist you with the same type of professional help without the previous call impacting their decision making.
"They come to work on holidays, weekends and scheduled days off," said Phillips. "They leave their families to help the general public with major weather storms or major events. They are truly remarkable, caring, human beings who make a difference."
Hinkle was also voted Telecommunicator of the Year. Phillips presented Hinkle with the award, a certificate for a day off with pay and $50 in Cassville Cash.
"Tony was voted on by his peers who want to acknowledge that he is always early for work and can be counted on to do what is asked of him," said Phillips. "He does this with a good attitude and in this type of work, that is an asset."
Hinkle's name will be placed on a plaque that will be on display in the Barry County E-911 Operations Center.
All of the award winners had the opportunity to make a selection from an assortment of prizes donated by local businesses. Donors included: Security Bank; Carquest; Coast to Coast; Pizza Hut; Carrie Jabben; Whitley Pharmacy; Hot Spot; Fenton's; Electric Beach; Tomblin's; Radio Shack; and Angel Tree Floral.