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Telecommunicators work behind the scenes, don’t get much glory

By MELINDA ENNIS

Guest columnist

There are unsung heroes every day that fail to get recognized with well-deserved praise. The ones I want to focus on here are behind the scenes and forgotten on a daily basis. Without them, the world of emergency services would simply not be able to function in any kind of order.

We are the first first responders.

The ladies and gentlemen I’m going to briefly introduce you to give up their weekends, holidays, family gatherings and special events to make sure your emergencies are handled with dedication and efficiency. While that can be said of many responders, we do it while juggling multiple emergencies at the same time and usually never knowing if our efforts worked out for the good.

We are labeled as clerical workers and don’t even get the respect our fellow responders receive. We become a tight-knit group of family for support through tears and laughter. Welcome to the Danville/Boyle 911 Center:

Director Rebecca Hafley has been with the center for 20 years, rising up from supervisor to assistant director and finally director about four years ago. She is also our TAC officer, which means she oversees our paperwork and coordinates with all our agencies to make sure we are in compliance with state and federal rules for running those systems.

I am Assistant Director Melinda Ennis. I have been here for 14 years. I handle the day-to-day operations of the 911 center. I am also the training manager, which means I manage in-house training and make sure we meet all yearly recertifications.

Lisa Tyus has been with us for 18 years. She is advanced certified and is one of our trainers. She has been with us through two moves and two computer system updates. She is one of our most knowledgeable and experienced telecommunicators.

Josselyn Oblisk Spayner has already entered her sixth year at the center. She has progressed quickly into a much-valued trainer. She assists in interviews, training and test-outs. This is only her first move and computer system update she has been through, but I’m sure she’ll tell you she hopes it’s the last.

Traci Butler has just celebrated her fifth year. She has recently started training and works mainly on night shift. Those shifts are usually busier and with the more serious calls. It takes strength, focus and a large ability to multitask.

Krystal Smith is about to hit her four-year anniversary. She has taken on a lot of responsibility within the department. She is in charge of updating our business files, has started training, and assists in paperwork entries and file maintenance.

Carissa Smith has been here three years, but fully believes she has law enforcement in her blood. Her grandfather was a retired Danville police officer. Carissa is attending the Department of Criminal Justice Training later this year for classes so she can become a trainer of our new employees.

Jayla Pennycuff is our Kentucky transplant from Tennessee, who has entered into her third year with the city of Danville. She has grown into a strong member of our team and has really stood out, especially this last year. Her strength and customer service skills have grown and become invaluable through the move and transition into emergency medical dispatching.

Krystal Blackburn has rejoined the Danville 911 center recently.  We originally hired Krystal back in 2008 and were able to convince her to return last year. She brings such a depth of knowledge and experience to our center. She is intermediate certified and working toward her advanced certification this year.

Sandra Clough is one of our newest employees. She has had the challenge in joining us right as we were starting emergency medical dispatching, switching computer systems, and relocating into a new dispatch center. She had to train through extreme situations. 

Nina Wesley is currently in our training program. She will work with a variety of our trainers in different phases. This enables her to experience a multitude of calls and training styles.

We also employee three part-time employees that are certified but have full-time jobs elsewhere. They fill in as they can and as needed. They are Mitzi Wardle, Matthew Sparks and Austin Ray.