Barry County E9-1-1 telecommunicators honored for service
April 24, 2019
Vinnie Roberts & Charlea Estes-Jones
In the aftermath of times of crisis, people often remember to thank the firefighters, police and emergency medical staff that helps them through. Often overlooked in these praises are the men and women who work dispatch for these services. Last week was National Telecommunicator Week. In honor, the Barry County E9-1-1 Center held an open house and tours and celebrated the voice behind the call.
In Barry County, police, fire, and emergency medical services are all handled by the staff of the E9-1-1 center located in Cassville near the Crowder College Campus.
Carrie Jabben has been working dispatch in Barry County for 13 years. She began her work long before the E9-1-1 center was built, initially doing dispatch out of the Barry County Jail.
Jabben grew up in Haysville, Kan., just a few miles south of Wichita. She says that her family has always had the highest respect for emergency services, due in part to her father being a key figure in the fire department during her childhood. This directly led to her decision to become a dispatcher.
“My dad was a captain of the fire department back home,” said Jabben. “So, matters of public safety took precedence over anything in our home. It was just kind of in my blood.”
After Jabben grew up and started a family of her own, she saw dispatch as a way to honor her father.
“I was a stay-at-home mom for awhile,” said Jabben. “When [my family] moved here to Missouri, I decided that this would be a good way for me to follow in my father’s footsteps.”
Jabben stated that part of her infatuation with the job is the excitement of never knowing what her day will be like.
“You never know what you’re going to get when that phone rings,” said Jabben. “You have to be prepared for whatever comes over that phone.”
Stacy Lake, another dispatcher for the E911 center, also spoke on her work. Lake has been a dispatcher for over a year and a half, with July marking her second anniversary with the center.
Lake moved to the area from California and decided that, after she had come to the area, she wanted to work in a position where she could help people.
“I moved here from California,” said Lake. “I have a background in the medical field. I still wanted to help people and be close to my kids’ school. I saw that there was an opportunity here and immediately applied. I figured I’d still be helping people and my community.”
The hardest part of the job for Jabben is hanging up the phone. According to her, hearing people in crisis but never getting to know how the story ends takes an emotional toll.
“We typically never find out the outcome of calls,” said Jabben, “Sometimes, we call and see if we can get an update, but we usually can’t.”
According to Jabben, one call in particular sticks in her mind as a career highlight.
“I got to hear a baby being delivered,” said Jabben. “It was very cool to hear a life come into this world.”
Lake explained that she also finds the exciting nature of the job to be part of what she looks forward to everyday.
“We can go from having a day where everything is peaceful and calm to all of our lines ringing and everyone having multiple calls on multiple lines. There’s never a ‘same’ type of day. It’s always different.”
Lake stated that, while her job is strenuous, she finds joy in being able to help people through their worst moments. “We’ve had CPR in progress with an infant, when you hear that infant finally take a breath and start crying, that’s something to be happy about,” said Lake. “Calls like that really show us why we do what we do. We help people in their darkest moments.”
Through all of the emotional toll of the job, Lake remains optimistic about her role in the community being a positive one, stating that she believes that her work is necessary for those in need, regardless of the urgency of their issue.
“We need to have that opportunity to reach out when we’re in need,” said Lake. “People need to have that 24/7. We’re the link to help when people need it.”
While the job takes its emotional strain, Jabben stated that it also brings her great joy.
“The most important thing is that my family is very proud, which makes me proud,” said Jabben. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Jabben stated that her work at the E911 center is crucial to the community. She went on to explain that the dispatch staff is well-trained for their positions.
“The standard of care that we give is, to me, impeccable,” said Jabben. “We are professional. We know how to do our jobs. We’re there to help as soon as we can.”
Barry County E9-1-1 director Mike Phillips said the importance of National Telecommunicator Week is to draw attention to the importance of the field and thank the employees at the center. He said, “I am truly proud of the work my staff does every day and am glad that this week during National Telecommunicator Week, we take some time to reflect on the great work they do and the high level of service they provide to our community.”
During a special awards ceremony, local telecommunicators were given awards.
Telecommunicator of the Year – Deirdre Duym
Most Knowledgeable – Deirdre Duym
Rookie of the year – Nikki (Nicole) House
Best Partner – Chelsee McClelland (second year in a row)
Best Attitude – Melanie Gipson
Most Dependable – Chris Bolton
Employee of the Year – Melissa Scott
Most Overtime Worked - Chris Bolton
Least Sick Time Used – Zhan Mourning and Deirdre Duym
Most CAD calls – Deirdre Duym, 4,672 calls
Highest compliance on EMD, EFD, EPD calls - all three awards went to Deirdre Duym.