Apr. 15—Directors of the 911 dispatch centers in Owensboro and and KSP's Henderson post have tried to make the work days a little more special for their teams this week, as they celebrate "National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week."
Owensboro-Daviess County 911 Director Paul Nave and Henderson post 911 Director Blake Smith said the week is a chance to recognize the work of dispatchers.
"We've been hosting meals every day," Nave said. "We have some trivia games to celebrate the week; we've drawn names for goodie bags we've made up, we've had T-shirt days, just to make it a different atmosphere for the week, and to celebrate the staff."
Recognizing the work of 911 dispatchers is "critically important," Nave said.
"To me, they are first true first responders," Nave said.
In an emergency, "we are the first person they come in contact with. Our training and professionalism make a difference in people's lives."
Smith said area restaurants have delivered meals for the Henderson post dispatch staff each day this week.
Being a dispatcher requires a person to function during stressful calls for help, and to multitask.
The job also requires dispatchers to work schedules that can include nights, weekends and holidays, Smith said.
The Henderson post dispatch is currently down three employees, but has several applicants for openings. But state workers are all receiving 6% raises in July, which has helped with recruitment, Smith said.
Dispatch can be a lifelong career, Smith said.
"We've got people who have been here for years," Smith said. "There are people who have stuck with it. I get offers every day to do something else, but I've stuck with it. I enjoy it, and hopefully I can retire from it.
"You remember the calls you've taken," Smith said.
Nave said dispatch teaches people the skills to handle the job, and that, "you really have to care and have this in your heart to do the job."
While some calls are difficult, "there are tears of joy, too," Nave said. The Owensboro dispatch center is regularly seeking dispatcher applicants.
"It's a rewarding career," Nave said, and that dispatchers can go home at the end of the work day and say, "'I made a positive impact on somebody.' "