Oktibbeha coounty 911 telecommunicators awarded at banquet

OKTIBBEHA COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI)- It’s the first voice you hear during an emergency call: the 911 operator.

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week highlights the critical work of dispatchers and operators.

And their efforts don’t go unnoticed.

When you dial 911, you’re connected to an emergency dispatcher within seconds.

From start to finish,they’re the ones to assist in a time of need and send the services of first responders to you.

” People really don’t understand what we do. People have the consumption or the impression that we sit behind the desk all day just taking calls,” said Keena Matthews.

But there’s more than simply picking up the phone.

Matthews is the Communications Supervisor at the Oktibbeha County Emergency Management Center.

” We are not just a call center. We handle emergency calls. We get you the help that you need. We may talk to you seriously on the worst day of your life,” said Matthews.

Telecommunicators make quick decisions every hour–decisions that can help save a life.

” We walk people through CPR. If someone is bleeding,we can tell you how to make it stop. It takes a toll if you have nobody to talk to or if you have nobody to handle it,” said Matthews.

Today, dispatchers are recognized for their service in the community.

Eighteen people from the Oktibbeha County E911 Center received awards on a job well done.

Before operators can put on a headset to assist critical calls, training is mandatory.

” It takes probably about a year to get someone fully certified to do this job. It’s about 400 hours of certification that they have to get. Every three years, they have to earn another 68 hours to get rectified,” said Campanella.

Director Kristen Campanella says the center receives nearly 450 calls per day–that’s 3,100 calls a week.

One dispatcher took over 7,000 calls this year alone.

” We consider them first responders because they are the first line of emergency services. Unfortunately for them, they don’t always get that closure. A lot of our firefighters,medics, and law enforcement they get to go to a scene and actually get that closure for those calls,” said Campanella.

” We are responsible for the weather sirens that you hear. On these weather days, we have power outages that we take. It overwhelms us when there’s only three people to a shift. We have flood reports, we have damage reports,trees down, and road hazards,” said Matthews.

Campanella is grateful for her team.

“This week has been very humbling to them. They felt very appreciated,” said Campanella.

The banquet ended with a parade from first responders in Oktibbeha County.

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