Chico, Calif. – During dangerous moments in someone’s life placing an emergency call for help to 9-1-1 can be traumatic. Oftentimes, the trained voice on the other end of the line can make all the difference.
There are two North State women who may understand more than many the crucial role that dispatchers play for emergency situations.
For 20 years Chico Police Department Dispatch Supervisor Julie Ceccato says she has heard it all; fights, robberies, accidents and worse. She and her colleagues offer a calm, cool and collected voice on the line when someone calls 9-1-1.
She explains operators are the communicators between a callers’ emergency and the people that are placed en-route to help them.
Meantime, when Chico Police Officer Lindsay Stalnaker is dispatched to a scene, she must trust and rely on the details dispatchers are sending out.
She says the operators ask the right questions and then give officers the right information. She explains that a great deal of officer safety comes from an emergency operator’s initial reaction and contact to the person making the 9-1-1 call.
In the case of the two public servants, they are connected by more than just training and common employer, because Ceccato is Stalnaker’s mother.
Dispatch Supervisor Ceccato says she is always extremely aware and wants everyone to be safe and sound, but adds that when she knows her own child is involved, the ballgame changes.
Officer Stalnaker says she is aware of the challenges and believes it is difficult for her mother to know she is on a call; and perhaps in a critical incident, but not worry. She says while her mother always comes first; that while on duty, she remains focused on the job.
And, dispatchers on duty do the same. They remain focused regardless of the situation. Many dispatchers also say they have taken a call that stays with them forever. For Dispatch Supervisor Ceccato, that call came four years ago this month.
She says the call involved her son, who was critically injured in accident, in which she had to activate a trauma team for a traumatic brain injury. She says she knew all the details of everything going on long before she knew the person involved was her son.
One might question, how she is able to still perform her job.
She says she hopes for the best and believes what she does is helping people and she knows she is getting people the help they need.
The two women do encounter some good-natured ribbing once in a while. Dispatch Supervisor Ceccato says she is often asked if she packs her daughter’s lunch. She says the answer is no and adds, it is sometimes her daughter who brings her lunch!
Ceccato may be familiar to some. She and her team received honors last year while responding to the Oroville Dam Spillway emergency, for going 'above and beyond,' in responses to calls from the public.
National Public Safety Telecommunicators week runs through April 14th, 2018. To all of our regional 9-1-1 dispatch operators we say thank you.