This week, law enforcement and the public will recognize their dispatchers, an integral part of their teams.
Local 911 coordinator Shelly Stahlbusch said she has been in the field for more than 25 years. Stahlbusch also currently works part time as a dispatcher. Stahlbusch said the dispatchers deserve to be recognized as the “hidden heroes” they are. She said the job is rewarding, but also thankless and stressful.
“I love the people I work with, on both sides of the radio,” Stahlbusch said. “They deserve all the thanks in the world.”
“It’s a shame people can’t do a “ride along” with a dispatcher like they can officers,” said Ardmore Police Department’s DJ Long. “They manage the chaos.”
Long said dispatchers hear everything from police, fire, and medical—and those who call in.
Long said they have to figure out what’s going on in situations where there might be a lot of noise in the background, other people talking and distressed callers.
“It could be that a child has a splinter,” Long said. “Or it could be that they have a near-death scenario.”
Long said keeping track of officers’ locations and safety is also part of a dispatcher’s duty.
Stahlbush said the County Commissioners gave the go ahead recently to update the 911 technology to Emergency Callworks. The new software will be installed in about 12 weeks, Stahlbusch said. “With technology, updates happening so frequently,” she said, “we hope to get more accurate information.”
In addition to the new technology, Stahlbusch said she is a chairperson for the state-wide 911 training this October. The public safety conference will take place in Tulsa and will offer classes geared toward leadership and technology to dispatchers and other professionals.