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Letter from the Chief Communications Officer

This week gives the nation an opportunity to recognize the amazing contributions of the dedicated people whose occupation is to answer 9-1-1 calls.

Madison County 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Center (MCEC), under the direction of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), would like to recognize our own Madison County communication officers.

They are truly the first responders. These men and women represent Madison County as the link between the caller and the first responders, whether it is law enforcement, emergency medical services or the fire department.

Unless you‘ve had to call into the MCEC, or any other 9-1-1 facilities, you may not think about the role of a dispatcher. That person behind the scenes is taking your call and becomes a lifeline to getting you the assistance you need.

When people come to experience the Communications Center performing what we call a “Sit-In,” whether it be an officer to meet the requirements of their Field Training or someone interested in securing a position within the Communications Center, it is an eye-opening experience to spend a couple of hours listening to 9-1-1 calls along with the everyday operations of the center.

They get a good sense of what the dispatchers endure. Every day is different and every call is different.

The dispatchers have mastered the ability of multi-tasking, problem solving, listening to frantic calls, assisting callers who speak different languages and providing pre-arrival instructions if needed.  They are also capable of making responsible, critical decisions and getting the proper personnel and units en route while attempting to remain calm and composed.

They not only receive 9-1-1 calls, but non-emergency calls from the public, other agencies and direct those calls to the appropriate locations for assistance. There are numerous other duties they handle during a shift. They handle radio traffic while  monitoring all radio channels, dispatch responders to the call for service, perform computer entries of data into the FDLE system regarding warrants, protection orders, stolen vehicles and other items, filing, completing residential checks, querying data for officers as needed, preparing CAD reports, advising of weather alerts when received, along with being responsible for other clerical duties.

Often there are times where the dispatcher is not aware of what the final outcome of a call for service was. It is hard to separate your emotions from this position, but it takes a unique individual to stay strong, focused and able to maintain control in any given situation to make sure they are effectively, efficiently and safely handling a call for service.

As John Wooden, legendary basketball coach stated, “If you don’t have time to do it right, when do you ever have time to do it?”

We get it right the first time. There are no do-overs in this profession.

I am honored to work alongside my fellow Communications Officers. They do a remarkable job under very stressful conditions. The department thanks them for their continued dedication.

- Terry Lenz-Thigpen

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