The calm in the chaos: WCSO dispatchers unseen heroes of public safety

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WASHINGTON COUNTY – Amidst the din of phones ringing and scanner radios talking in the background, two dispatchers calmly handle the chaos surrounding them. They are the voice of reason on the other end of the line in times of crisis, and they are being celebrated this week, April 11 through 17, which is recognized as National Public Safety Telecommunicators WeekThis week is the ideal time to reflect on how these unseen, often unsung heroes of the public safety system contribute to each agency they serve. 

Washington County Communications Center has eight full time and five part time dispatchers who field an average of 100 calls per day for Washington County Sheriff’s Office, City of Chipley, two EMS Stations and ten fire departments. These unseen heroes work 12-hour shifts, switching between seven different screens and fielding everything from administrative calls to 911 emergencies.  

Dispatch Supervisor Brenda Rhodes has been working in the field for 15 years and says it is rewarding, yet often under appreciated calling.

“I love what I do," said Rhodes. "This is a very rewarding job, but most times we are under appreciated for the hard work we put in." Rhodes also says she has a great staff she is lucky to work with, including Jamie Carswell, who has been in the field for 20 years.

Carswell says he got into this line of work because he wanted to help others. “I started working dispatch as a way to help people,” said Carswell. “I think almost all of us that do this started for that very reason.” 

Often referred to as "The Thin Gold Line", the staff of Washington County Sheriff's Office dispatch is the calm voice in the midst of the storm.

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