Davis County Sheriff’s Dispatch Center celebrates National Dispatchers Week

By Loretta Park

Standard-Examiner Davis Bureau

Thu, 04/14/2011 – 11:57pm

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ERIN HOOLEY/Standard-Examiner  Below, Amanda Glezos wears a sun hat in honor of National Dispatchers Week.
ERIN HOOLEY/Standard-Examiner Amanda Henderson wears a hot dog hat in honor of National Dispatchers Week at the Davis County Sheriff’s Dispatch Center in Farmington on Tuesday. The Davis County dispatchers are celebrating this week with non-uniform outfits and food.
ERIN HOOLEY/Standard-Examiner  Below, Amanda Glezos wears a sun hat in honor of National Dispatchers Week.
 FARMINGTON — Silly hats, food on the center table and casual clothing can’t stop the 911 calls from coming in to the Davis County Sheriff’s Dispatch Center during National Dispatchers Week.
The voice answering the 911 calls is the person the public meets at their worst moments, whether because of a house fire, a medical emergency, domestic violence, a burglary or car accident.
Having a “competent dispatcher on the other end when you’re in the middle of an emergency can have a calming influence,” said Davis County Sheriff’s Sgt. Susan Poulson.
Korilyn Jensen has been a dispatcher since 1987.
For her, several types of emergency calls are difficult.
The first is when a child asks for help because of domestic violence in the home, she said.
The second is when a child requires medical attention.
The third is when an officer “has to shoot somebody,” Jensen said. “You want to help, but you can’t. They’re your family.”
This week, April 10-16, is National Dispatchers Week, and Davis County dispatchers are relaxing a bit while performing their job.
On Tuesday, dispatchers wore hats to work — and not just any old hat, but the silliest ones they could find.
Amanda Henderson, a dispatcher for seven years, wore a hat that looked like a hotdog in a bun. She landed her dispatch job when she was 20, after her mother filled out an application for her.
“I didn’t think I could handle it,” Henderson said. But her mom believed in her and Henderson learned she could do it.
Most days, the calls Henderson gets are from someone who needs help. Rarely do the dispatchers receive a thank-you call or note from those they’ve helped, but when they do, it means a lot.
“We just got a nice letter from a 17-year-old who had a bonfire that exploded on him,” Henderson said. “It started out as a bad call, but it ended up good.”
There are those few calls when the end is not happy.
Henderson recently took a call from a man who was suicidal and shot himself while talking to her.
“Those are the ones that stay with you,” she said.
But having a week to wear casual clothes instead of their uniforms, and to play bingo — dispatch-style, helps make the job a bit easier.
Tom Norvelle, the center manager, said the 24 dispatchers are scheduled to work in one of three shifts, so there is coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
When he started as a dispatcher in 1991, the sheriff had moved the center to its present location. Norvelle, who retired as a chief master sergeant from the Air Force, where his specialty was law enforcement, initially planned to work as a dispatcher for only a few months.
“But there’s never a boring day,” said Norvelle, who will reach 50 years of law enforcement experience in August.
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