Ky. county now classifies 911 dispatchers as first responders

Knox County Judge and Executive Mike Mitchell said this resolution is being adopted across the Commonwealth


By Angela Turner
The Times-Tribune, Corbin, Ky.

KNOX COUNTY, Ky. — The Knox County Fiscal Court adopted a resolution Tuesday during a fiscal court meeting to recognize all 911 dispatchers as first responders.

Knox County Judge/Executive Mike Mitchell said this is something that is being done across the Commonwealth.

The resolution recognizes that the dispatchers of Knox County 911 first responders are part of the critical infrastructure of the public safety framework, without them public safety would not be possible. (Photo/Knox County 911)
The resolution recognizes that the dispatchers of Knox County 911 first responders are part of the critical infrastructure of the public safety framework, without them public safety would not be possible. (Photo/Knox County 911)

“Dispatchers have to deal with bad situations through the first line of communication to get hooked up with law enforcement, police, fire and other agencies and have to deal with bad events,” Mitchell added.

The silent heroes behind the headsets are more than just a voice on the other end of the line. Often times they help save lives.

The resolution recognizes that the dispatchers of Knox County 911 first responders are part of the critical infrastructure of the public safety framework, without them public safety would not be possible.

The fiscal court recognized that the dispatchers are selfless and make critical decisions, provide care and compassions to citizens during tragic moments.

Knox County 911 dispatchers go through extensive background checks, a five-week training course and a 21-week inter-department training and all are required to do continued education. Sadly this job is often looked at as a clerical position receiving low pay.

Knox County 911 Director Tracie Rains said a lot of other agencies are starting to recognize the extent of what the job entails.

Rains took over as director in June and is the county’s first female director. Rains worked as a dispatcher in Knox County for five years and served as a training director.

Over the last several months she and Mitchell have been working on addressing some needs that haven’t been looked at in order to create some positive changes.

The resolution reclassifying dispatchers as first responders shows a tremendous amount of respect said Rains, who said they’re often looked at as clerical.

“We aren’t out there in person but we hear so much over the phone and a lot of that really sticks with you,” added Rains.

Rains said the dispatcher is the very first person to respond in the emergency service response.

“And we’re not just here to help the public, we’re here to help our other first responders,” she said.

In April, Kentucky State Police honored their dispatchers during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.

“KSP telecommunicators are challenged on a daily basis dealing with stressful situations, many that involve life and death, and they are expected to handle these situations with compassion, empathy and professionalism,” said Captain Catron, Commander of KSP Post 10 in Harlan. “They are a lifeline to our troopers in the field. By the nature of the business, they deal with people who have been victimized or need medical assistance. They may be threatening and belligerent, or in some cases, not able to communicate at all, other than dialing 911 with their last bit of strength, in an attempt to get help.”

Knox County currently has 11 dispatchers and covering over 36,000 residents. The dispatch for the Knox County Sheriffs Office, Barbourville City Police, Knox County Ambulance Service and nine fire departments.

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©2019 The Times-Tribune (Corbin, Ky.)

 

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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