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Mecklenburg’s 911 telecommunicators honored at banquet / April 24, 2019

The Mecklenburg County Emergency Communications Center held their annual banquet on Tuesday, April 16 in Boydton to honor their telecommunicators and celebrate National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.

Dispatcher Heather Long was awarded the Telecommunicator of the Year award, voted on by her co-workers. Director Ben Duncan said that “You have people who like their job, people who enjoy their job, and then you have people who absolutely love their job.” In describing her commitment to the 911 center, Duncan said Long is striving to do better, and described her as “passionate, caring, kind, and helpful.”

This is the fourth year that the award has been presented to the dispatcher that goes above and beyond for the center.

Lifesaving awards were also presented to 10 dispatchers for 13 saves last year. A save is when the dispatcher gives CPR instructions through Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) and the person survives. Dispatchers receiving these awards were Austin Carnes who had four saves for the year, Jim Moyer, Kelly Medlin, Zorona Maples, Donna Seamans, Kevin Farrar, Heather Long, Johnathan Kirkland, Stacey Allen and Laura Chapman.

Other awards were given to the team with the highest percentage of EMD calls for the year — Jim Moyer, Kelly Medlin and Donna Burch, and the award for highest individual compliance for the center went to Zorona Maples.

Duncan welcomed guests from around the county representing local fire, police and EMS agencies and provided statistics for the year. Last year the 911 center received 75,713 calls for service compared to 66,000 the year before. Duncan also spoke of how the center has introduced a new radio system in the last year that is going well, and that everyone seems to be adjusting.

The new computer aided dispatch or CAD system, which will further enhance the ability of first responders to communicate with each other throughout the County, is expected to go live on Feb. 18, 2020, and he praised his team for all their hard work throughout the year, and for their dedication to the citizens of Mecklenburg.

John Zubrod, head of the 911 Advisory Committee, called the telecommunicators the unsung heroes of emergency services. He shared a personal experience when explaining how the dispatchers “set the stage for the success of each incident.” His son in law, Trooper Matthew Ezell, suffered serious injuries from a motorcycle accident several weeks ago. But he said the dispatchers calmly and professionally handled what was, in his words, “a chaotic situation.”

Zubrod went on to say, “Other than this week you [the dispatchers] usually don’t receive the recognition you deserve. You are the fourth leg of emergency services along with police, fire and EMS. Without you we wouldn’t know when or where to go and what to expect once we arrive.”

County Administrator Wayne Carter delivered the keynote address adding his personal view on how he has and will always be and advocate for the 911 center. He acknowledged the difficulty of the job and the toll it takes on families because the dispatchers are often at work during holidays, birthdays and other important occasions in their lives. “They are there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year.”

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