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911 Connects

DoD Celebrates National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

Published Apr 2021

By John Holloway, Office of Global Public Safety Communications, Defense Information Systems Agency

The Department of Defense (DoD) is celebrating National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week along with state and municipal emergency response partners.

“This week is a time for a grateful nation to show its appreciation and to recognize that our health, safety, and well-being are often dependent on the commitment and steadfast devotion of public safety telecommunicators,” President Bill Clinton said in a 1994 proclamation.

During this week, the Defense Information Systems Agency joins the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and the Defense Logistics Agency to acknowledge the work of 911 operators leading DoD’s emergency response.

Here are a few stories of exceptional telecommunicators from the past year, submitted by the Army and Marine Corps:

  • Public safety telecommunicator Jeremy Board answered a 911 call reporting a suicidal person at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, on June 16, 2020. Board quickly entered the call into the CAD system while gathering information from the often-hysterical caller. This allowed another telecommunicator to quickly deploy police and EMS units to the scene.

  • On February 6, lead dispatcher Kimberly Devane of the Fort Benning, Georgia 911 Center received a medical emergency call for service from on-post housing. The caller reported that his wife was about to give birth. In fact, within one minute, she delivered their child. The caller then told the dispatcher that the baby had the umbilical cord wrapped around its neck. Devane directed the caller through the process of removing the cord from the infant’s neck, ensuring the baby was alert and breathing when EMS arrived.

  • On January 20, Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), Washington public safety dispatcher Kimberley Durham received a 911 call about a possible self-induced drug overdose. Durham could hear that the individual was suffering from what seemed to be respiratory distress. She gathered information to dispatch first responders and then led the caller through administering first aid, including CPR. Throughout the call, Durham continued to guide the while also offering reassurance to the caller until fire and medical personnel arrived. The patient was transported to the hospital and was expected to make a full recovery.

  • On January 13, public safety telecommunicator Robert Maloney received a 911 call for service involving a gunshot wound at Marine Corps Recruit Depot on Parris Island, South Carolina. The call came in from the Weapons Training Battalion regarding a 19-year-old Marine Corps recruit who had sustained a gunshot wound to the face. Maloney quickly gathered all pertinent information and, while performing lifesaving emergency medical dispatch protocols, simultaneously dispatched appropriate fire and emergency services resources to the scene. These actions led to prompt medical attention to the recruit’s life-threatening injury and, ultimately, his recovery.

  • In February 2020, the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar in California was designated by the Department of State to receive individuals for quarantine from cruise ships and various locations outside the U.S. due to COVID-19. MCAS Miramar public safety telecommunicators supported first responders in the transfer of individuals to designated quarantine areas while still conducting daily Public Safety Answering Point operations. Throughout the following months and into 2021 and as procedures rapidly changed, MCAS telecommunicators provided excellent communications and coordination with first responder personnel on the ground.

  • Also on January 20, public safety dispatcher Garrett Rink received a 911 call from a JBLM Washington resident whose wife had just given birth to an unconscious newborn. Rink quickly recognized that life-saving action was needed and instructed the caller in how to perform infant CPR. After a few minutes of CPR, the newborn began to breathe without any further assistance. Both mother and newborn were transported to the hospital and both mother and child made a full recovery.

  • Public safety telecommunicator Michael Stahl received a 911 call from the mother of a six-year-old autistic child who’d been bitten by a copperhead snake on September 3, 2020. The call was a cellphone transfer to Marine Corps Base Quantico from an adjoining county. Stahl quickly gathered information and dispatched units, which arrived on scene in four minutes. While continuing to relay information to responding units, Stahl remained on the phone, calming the mother until paramedics were with her. The father of the child later sent a letter praising the overall response by Quantico Fire & Emergency Services, including that of the dispatcher.