DID YOU KNOW?
- There are more than 90,000 public safety telecommunicators in the United States, answering more than 240 million calls to 911 each year.
- In 2020, Hoosier telecommunicators received more than 3.7 million calls and more than 13,000 texts to 911.
- The first 911 call in Indiana was made in March 1968.
- Indianapolis became the first metropolis in the nation to deploy Text-for-911 services in October 2015.
Sources: nhtsa.gov, 911.gov, Indiana Statewide 911 Board
Telecommunicators Week: April 10–16, 2022
Indiana's public safety telecommunicators are trained first responders who coordinate response efforts to emergencies around the clock, day in and day out. The second week of April is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security encourages agencies and residents statewide to learn more about the important work these professionals do and to share appreciation for them.
Highlighting Hoosier Telecommunicators
Highlighting Hoosier Telecommunicators
Read the article "Lifeline Over the Phone Line: Recognizing the Work of Public Safety Telecommunicators" from the April 2021 Hoosier Responder to read about the work Indiana's 911 telecommunicators do.
The following are just a few stories of public safety telecommunicators from across the state, as recognized by the Indiana Statewide 911 Board, during 2021 or 2022:
- Northern Indiana
Chad Babbs, Jamie Wenclaff
Indiana State Police, Fort Wayne Regional Dispatch Center
Trooper Chad Babbs encountered a grandmother who had driven from Georgia to Cass County looking for her granddaughter, whom she believed was in the area and was hoping to persuade her to return to Georgia with her. Babbs advised her to seek a motel for the evening, but she did not have enough money to do so, so he paid for a room for her. The next morning, he woke up and noticed that Jamie Wenclaff, regional dispatch night supervisor, had reimbursed him half of the motel expense.
Elkhart City Communications Center
Dispatcher Olivia Watkins received a 13-second 911 call from a cell phone. She determined the caller may be in trouble and immediately used Rapid SOS to find the phone's location and then relayed the information to law enforcement officers in the area. As a result, the victim escaped from a moving vehicle and gave officers information that led to the arrest of a suspect for robbery and criminal confinement.
Randolph County E9-1-1
Telecommunicator Nalaina Whitesel took a 911 call from a family whose daughter was giving birth at home. Whitesel advised that traveling to the hospital would be too dangerous for them to travel to the hospital, and she kept the callers calm and gave them instructions on how to deliver the baby at home. She stayed on the phone for 8 minutes until EMS and law enforcement personnel arrived.
- Central Indiana
Indianapolis Fire Department
Dispatcher Cameron Bopp received 911 texts starting "help," "rape" and "forced into black Chevy car." He used Rapid SOS to find the phone's location and informed his supervisor, who then relayed the information to law enforcement officers in the area. Bopp continued updating on the location of the phone, and officers were able to find the vehicle and rescue the woman who had texted 911.
Stephanie Suiter, Judy Osborn-Turner
Hendricks County Communications Center
Communications training officer Stephanie Suiter and her trainee received a 911 call from a woman who had driven her car into a pond and was hysterical. Without hesitating, due to the high-risk situation, Suiter took over pre-arrival instructions and dispatched law enforcement and fire personnel. She remained on the line to give instructions and reassurance until responders successfully rescued the woman before the car became completely submerged.
On a separate occasion, dispatcher Judy Osborn-Turner received a 911 call of a man in cardiac arrest. She provided life-saving instructions to his wife, who successfully performed CPR until first responders arrived. The man survived without any deficits due to Osborn-Turner's reassuring and persistent guidance.
Shelbyville Police Department
Supervisor and IDACS coordinator Angie Hadley was specially recognized during a Shelbyville city council meeting for 30 years of service. In December, the city and Shelby County were to consolidate operations, ending Hadley's time as a city employee and continuing her career with the county.
Be Well Indiana, Johnson County Public Safety Communications Center
The Be Well Indiana hotline received a call from a Johnson County man who was suicidal, had a gun and planned to act. The Be Well Indiana representative contacted the Johnson County Public Safety Communications Center, and the telecommunicator shared that an address was on file for this caller. The Be Well Indiana representative was advised to stay on the phone while officers were dispatched. They arrived shortly, the caller answered the door and the Johnson County telecommunicator was able to confirm that officers were present and the caller was safe.
- Southern Indiana
Bartholomew County 911 Emergency Operations Center
Dispatcher Megan Hedger received a 911 text that said, "I've been held in my house since the fifth by (name). He kicked in my door. I have video surveillance footage. He has fallen asleep in the back room. Please help me. ..." Hedger immediately informed law enforcement and kept in contact with the victim by text. Officers arrived and took the suspect into custody.
Brown County 911 Dispatch Center
In the middle of the night, telecommunicator Dana from Brown County 911 Dispatch Center received a 911 call about an unresponsive woman, with no pulse and agonal breathing. She immediately gave CPR instructions to the people who called. They continued until first responders arrived and determined the woman had an overdose. They administered naloxone, and the patient was successfully resuscitated and taken to the hospital.
Gretchen Dimmett, Kim Tabb, Mariah Fenwick
Warrick County Sheriff's Office
Dispatcher Gretchen Dimmett received a 911 call about an unconscious woman on a park trail. She was calm, gave CPR instructions and continued to gather information. Meanwhile, dispatchers Kim Tabb and Mariah Fenwick worked together to send first responders to the scene while handling other 911 calls too. Law enforcement officers arrived, continued CPR and used a defibrillator. The woman began to breathe and her heartbeat was restored. EMS arrived and took the woman to the hospital. The woman survived and is doing well.
About Indiana's Telecommunicators
Public safety telecommunicators, or dispatchers, are often the initial first responder to an emergency. They take the 911 call or text of distress and obtain essential information to relay to emergency medical service providers, firefighters, law enforcement officers and others. Telecommunicators also give important instructions to callers to help save lives.
Indiana has about 2,000 telecommunicators serving daily to help protect Hoosiers and keep them safe.