KLEW Community Heroes: Public Safety Telecommunicators
LEWISTON, ID —
They're the calming voice on the other end of the line. Help in the darkest moment. Sometimes, dispatchers even save lives.
For Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, KLEW highlights dispatchers with the Lewiston Police Department as Community Heroes.
9-1-1. Three simple digits that mean help is on the way.
The voice on the other end could be one of the dispatchers in Lewiston Police's dispatch center.
"Lewiston Police?" communications watch supervisor Glory Paulat says as she answers what turns out to be a business call.
It's one of a wide variety of calls they take every day.
Communications specialist Kass Wilponen says, "Helping you find your lost dog to a missing person."
Children are some of their favorite calls, though they do encourage parents to remind kids 911 is only for emergencies.
"We have some great conversations. One wanted the Easter bunny, one wanted Santa. Asked if maybe we could get pizza," Wilponen laughs.
Though some days are different.
Wilponen thinks back on one such day; it happened just weeks ago. "It's always one of those things in the back of your mind could happen,"
The panic in the female caller's voice is evident. "Mom! Get her a pillow!"
Lewiston Police provided KLEW News with the March 911 call; all personal information has been redacted.
Communications watch supervisor Glory Paulat took the call.
"Lewiston 9-1-1, what's the address of your emergency?"
Caller: "Please hurry. My mom, she collapsed."
Glory Paulat: "Ok, is she conscious right now?"
Paulat calmly walks the woman through checking her mother's breathing. The caller says there's some gasping, but that her mother is quickly turning blue.
"Just listen to me," Glory tells her, "I'm going to help you, ok? I'm gonna tell you how to do chest compressions, can you do that for me?
Paulat: "Ok. I want you to place the heel of your hand on her breast bone...."
Glory talks the woman through over two minutes of CPR while other dispatchers, who can listen to one another's calls, dispatch medics.
The entire call lasts less than five minutes as the woman, instructed by Paulat, performs chest compressions until help arrives.
Paulat, too shy to do an on-camera interview about her experience, received the department's Life-Saving Award.
Though the greatest recognition came from the woman herself.
"She absolutely saved a life," Wilponen says.
Because the woman in this story survived.
"Which is a cherry on the cake," Kass smiles, "because you don't always get a happy ending. We get to see some of the worst and so it's nice when we get to see the best come out too."
9-1-1. Three simple digits....with heroes on the other end of the line.