Emergency by far dispatchers crucial part of safety

WE think of police officers, firefighters and paramedics when the words “first responder” are used. But there’s a critical layer of assistance between people in trouble and traditional first responders, and that’s the 911 dispatcher.

The importance of dispatchers, and how their work can mean the different between “life” and “death,” became clear in the honors for distinguished service that were made during the April 10 Bartholomew County Commissioners meeting. Six current or former county dispatchers were honored — for either saving lives or assisting police in the apprehension of suspects.

The role of dispatcher is not a high-profile one. Dispatchers work in a call center, largely in anonymity and out of the public view — using electronic tools (telephone, Internet, GPS signals), training and their wits to do their important work. Their work is so essential that shifts must be covered seven days a week, 24 hours a day, including holidays.

We second the recognition for former dispatcher Dylan Prather and current dispatchers Amanda Aird, Kelly Wilhite, Tony McClain, Emily Moore and Shannon Stuart for the fine work they — and many others — do for local residents around the clock in the Bartholomew County 911 Emergency Operations Center.

Their efforts play a crucial role in the safety and well being of local residents.