Dispatchers recognized in appreciation week

Dispatchers recognized in appreciation week
Photo credit: WDAM

PINE BELT (WDAM) - The second week in April is a special week to some people who hold 911 professions.

April 9-15 is National Public Safety Telecommunications week, and it is where people behind the scenes, the emergency dispatchers are recognized.

"It's that calming voice, it's that knowledgeable person on the other end of the phone receiver that can set the tone for everything," Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel said.

That calming voice is an emergency dispatcher, and they are generally the first line of defense when tragedy strikes.

Megan Stuart, who has been a Lamar County dispatcher for close to five years, said her job is rewarding.

"It means a lot, we deal with a lot of people and some of them are having the worst day of their lives," Stuart said.

But at the end of the day, she said it is all about helping people.

"Helping people, when they call in here, it's usually an emergency and we're their lifeline, we're helping them," Stuart said. "The deputies, they depend on us, we keep them safe."

Rigel said, "That's usually the first person, if somebody's having a crisis or an incident, its dispatch they talk to."

Oftentimes, the job is stressful and can hit a little close to home. Recently, Stuart made the final radio call for the fallen Sumrall firefighters.

"It was a very emotional day," Stuart said. "After I did the final call, I had to go outside and just kind of take a breather."

When the job hits close to home, they lean on one another.

"But you know your coworkers are here and they're there to talk to you through everything, so it's a big help," she said.

When the phone rings, their job is to keep people calm and gather information.

"When somebody calls in, we want to get them the help they need as soon as possible," Stuart said. "We try to calm them down, tell them everything is going to be OK, and we just have a procedure that we go to, and we just want to try to get them the best help as soon as possible."

Rigel said, "They're some of the unsung heroes, they're the ones that people never see," Rigel said. "I admire them, they don't get the credit that they deserve, this week is in honor of them, and I think it's a great thing."