Pick up a police scanner and you will hear the faceless voices of dispatchers making sure emergency services personnel get to the right place in an emergency. Often unheralded, these men and women play a crucial role in handling emergency situations. Greenwood County joined in national 911 Appreciation Week as dispatchers throughout the country are recognized for their efforts.
“So many people today don’t know what it is we do here,” said Greenwood County emergency communications operations manager Jill Boland. “This year we have tried to incorporate public awareness with the 911 Appreciation Week to educate people about what we do in communication center.”
Boland sent flyers to all the schools in Greenwood County inviting students to submit a poster depicting what emergency dispatchers do on a daily basis. Students in elementary and middle schools were given the theme “Why we call 911.” Students in grades 7-12 were given the theme “You called 911 for that?” Those posters are to depict examples of calls received at the communication center which may not ne emergencies. Boland said a number of prizes will be given away for those submitting posters.
Boland, who has made an effort to recognize dispatchers since she took over as director two years ago, had several themes throughout the week including pajama day and favorite sports team day. Boland has cooked hot dogs, waffles and bacon for dispatchers during the week. EMS workers brought a cake for the dispatchers and both Bi-Lo and the Pantry Shoppe have donated items.
“(Boland) has really made an effort to show her appreciation for what we do,” said Lori Wells, an E911 dispatcher. “It makes it easier to come to work every day when you know you’re appreciated.”
Emergency dispatchers often come under fire when they mishandle calls. Greenwood County dispatchers have been on the other end of the phone in their share of high-stress emergency situations in recent years. Some of the tapes from those phone calls are now used to train dispatchers throughout the state.
Greenwood County Sheriff Tony Davis commended the dispatchers in Greenwood County for their ability to handle tense situations properly and professionally.
“I appreciate the job our dispatchers do,” Davis said. “At times, it is very stressful in the emergency communication center. We have a great group of dispatchers and they pull together and do a great job. They are always professional and their service to Greenwood County is appreciated all year long, not just during 911 Appreciation Week.”