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National Telecommunicators Week, April 9-15

It's National Telecommunicators Week and we pay tribute to the important role of the 911 dispatcher who is the first, first responder.  They are the unsung heroes on the other end of the line who receives a call for service, provides instructions to the caller, and ensures that appropriate public safety personnel are sent to the scene.

Joint Communications Dispatch StaffCedar Rapids public safety dispatchers handle approximately 125,000 police calls for service, 10,000 fire calls for service, and 10,000 animal control calls for service annually.  All of our dispatchers are certified in Emergency Police, Fire and Medical dispatch through the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch.

The Police Department recognized several dispatchers with awards at the annual awards ceremony last month.  We wanted to share a few of the stories behind the awards to illustrate the crucial role that dispatchers play in saving lives.


On May 8, 2016, Dispatcher Stacey Crist received a 911 call from a female stating she found a male not awake and not breathing after having a seizure. During the 911 call, Crist told the caller to try to get the male flat on his back, but the female was unable to do so. The caller was then able to flag someone down to help her out.  The patient started to vomit and Crist had the caller turn the patient on his side while he was vomiting.  Crist then instructed the female to clean out the victim's mouth so that he was not choking on the vomit. Crist had the caller put the patient on his back and perform a head tilt to check for breathing. The patient was not breathing and Crist had the caller start CPR.  Several rounds of chest compressions were given before emergency responders arrived on scene. Once firefighters and a police officer arrived on scene, they took over performing CPR on the patient.  While firefighters and police officers were working on the patient, the patient regained a pulse.  The patient was then transported to the hospital for further treatment.  

On September 20, 2016, Dispatcher Lea Koehler took a call from a woman reporting that her daughter was going into labor and having a baby at the residence. The caller was hysterical and Koehler stayed with her during the seven minute call as she talked the caller through everything, including the birth of the baby girl.  The baby had already been born before any emergency responders arrived on scene. During this phone conversation, Koehler did an excellent job of providing communication and directions to the caller through the entire process including delivering the placenta and dealing with the umbilical cord.  

On December 11, 2016, Dispatcher Angie Thiher received a 911 call from a female subject reporting that her sister was having a baby.  The necessary information was gathered to send an emergency response. As information was being gathered the baby started an imminent delivery. Thiher started providing pre-arrival instructions guiding the caller to place a firm but gentle pressure on the baby’s head to support the baby.  The female caller started becoming anxious, but Thiher reminded her that help was on the way and that Dispatch was there to assist in the delivery of the baby.  The pre-arrival instructions continued as the baby was born. Thiher had the female caller gently wipe the baby’s mouth and a nose.  Thiher had the female caller wipe off the baby with a clean towel and ensured that the cord was not wrapped around the baby’s neck.  After the cord was deemed safe, Thiher had the female caller lay the baby in a towel on the mother’s belly. Thiher started to provide umbilical cord instructions as the emergency responders arrived. 

These are just three examples of outstanding work by our dispatchers.  We appreciate their efforts this week and all year around!

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