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Week honors unsung heros
Commission recognizes communication officers
Courthouse for web

Barton County Commission meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Monday morning:
• Approved a proclamation marking this as National Public Safety Communications Officers Week.
• Approved a bid from Straight Line Striping Inc. in reference to striping approximately 105 miles of county roads at a cost of no more than $100,000. The county has historically outsourced the striping and Straight Line has handled the project for several years.
• Approved accessing the rural water district that supplies Barton Community College to provide potable water for the Barton County Landfill. Approved a bid from Amerine Utilities Construction Inc. to install the 2-inch water pipeline at a cost of $40,520, which will come from the Landfill Improvements fund.

Public Safety Communications Officers play a vital role in protecting the life and property of Barton County citizens, a proclamation adopted by the Barton County Commission reads in part. It goes on to mark this as National Public Safety Communications Officers Week.

Dena Popp, 911 Director, addressed the commissioners:
“This week brings a lot of honor, publicity and celebration to the unsung heroes who unselfishly serve in their communities,” she said, “Across the nation in times of intense personal crisis, and community wide disasters, the first access point for those seeking emergency service is 911.
“The public communications safety centers that receive these calls have emerged as the first and single point of contact for persons seeking immediate relief during an emergency. Many have never and will never see a dispatcher, yet dispatchers are the front line for emergency. 911 dispatchers respond to both emergency and non-emergency calls. These dispatch emergency professionals and equipment can render life-saving assistance to the public. Dispatchers run names and vehicle tags given by officers to check for wanted people and stolen vehicles.
“Dispatchers are the lifeline for officers and other emergency responders. Not everyone has the capability to be an emergency dispatcher. It takes a great deal of multi-tasking, compassion, patience, and the ability to work long shifts, nights, weekends, and holidays that vary in call load and stress level. Every day is a new challenge and a new adventure for a dispatcher. A challenge that our local dispatchers are proud to take despite rarely being told, “good job,” or “thank you.”

Popp recommended the commissioners join her in thanking them for the job that they do, for their dedication and sacrifice, and declare this week April 8-14, as National Telecommunications Officer’s Week in Barton County, and sign a proclamation declaring it as such.
Commissioner Jennifer Schartz commented that at times, it seems the county doesn’t have enough dispatchers, and asked Popp if there was currently a need.
Popp responded the department is still down several dispatchers, and that it seems to be a running trend across the state, and even across the nation.
“It’s hard to get people who want to work nights, holidays, weekends, and that can multitask to the level that a dispatcher has to do,” she said.
Schartz inquired what the commissioners could do to help. Other than provide a higher wage, which Popp pointed out the commission already dealt with in January, it would simply be a matter of time to find the right people to fill the positions.
“They have to come to us with multi-tasking skills, and that has been a big factor up to this point,” she said. “You may have a radio in one ear, a phone in the other, and you're typing and listening to the radio, your partner may be telling you something. There’s just a lot of things that go on at once. And then you have the rotating shifts. Those that are currently there like the way it is set up right now, so I don’t know that we could do a whole lot more.”
Popp then read the proclamation, which the commission then adopted.