By RYAN SHERIDAN
Daily Press writer
The dispatch center of the Moffat County Public Safety Center recently received a national award The National Emergency Number Association's Outstanding Team Performance Award for Colorado.
"The award is always given on Sept. 11, but this year was even more stressful and upsetting," said Lynnette Stieb-Sorensen, Regional Communications Manager for the State Patrol. "And on top of that, my team went through a hell of a year. I nominated them for the team effort they've shown in dealing with everything that's gone on."
Every September 11 9/11 NENA recognizes dispatch centers across the country for their performance. Coincidentally, this year, that date came to mean much more to emergency services workers. The attacks on Washington, D.C. and New York City showed both what emergency crews do for citizens in need, and the tremendous risks they take. It was on that date that the PSC Dispatch Center was notified of their award.
The PSC Dispatch Center handles 911 calls for local law enforcement for Moffat County, as well as dispatch duties for the Colorado State Patrol for nine counties and several state and federal agencies.
The dispatch team had to deal with the death of an officer they had worked closely with Colorado State Patrol Trooper Jason Manspeaker. Manspeaker was killed in January while pursuing the escaped felons known as the Texas Seven.
"To deal with a personal tragedy, and then go to work and deal with other people's personal tragedies every day is very tough," Stieb-Sorensen said. "As a dispatcher you can't let your life interfere with the job. You have to leave anything personal at the door your mind has to be free to deal with what is going on. It takes a special kind of person to do this job."
The loss of Manspeaker is complicated by the fact that work he was involved in, an older warrant for example, continues to surface during dispatch duties.
"At times, you do have to deal with a reminder, a piece of work related to the loss," said Ruth Wade, communications supervisor for the State Patrol. "This is something that stays with you he was a friend to a lot of people that worked here."
On top of all the personal and national trauma, the dispatch team had to deal with making sure the move from Craig City Hall to the Moffat County Public Safety Center went smoothly.
"After losing a friend, the team then had the stress of moving to a new facility, and dealing with all new equipment," Stieb-Sorensen said. "There was training plus their additional workload to make the transition work we had dispatchers working 15 days straight, eight- to 12-hour shifts to keep the system going.
"It took a team effort to get through this last year, and our dispatch center is definitely a team, always has been. Without our team effort, law enforcement at the Safety Center would be non-functional."
This is the dispatch team's first award from the National Emergency Number Association, but the team has been recognized by the local law enforcement and state agencies.
"I nominated them for what they have done and dealt with this year," Stieb-Sorensen said. "This is tough work, and has so many responsibilities. I don't say 'thank you' enough, and this was a way to show my sincere appreciation."