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Meet our unsung heroes LPD’s 911 Emergency Dispatchers

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When you have an emergency you call 911 for help, and tonight, we’re taking you behind the scenes to meet the people on the other end of the phone often called unsung heroes.

KLEW News Reporter Kaila Lafferty joins us now in studio with this special report.

This week is National Public Safety Telecommunicator’s Week set up to celebrate the hard work of 911 dispatchers. I spent today with dispatchers of the Lewiston Police Department. They’ll tell you they’re just doing their job, but what I saw is nothing short of heroic.

"The nice thing about the 12's is that it makes the who eight hours shifts either before or after it seem really short,” said Jared Smith, Communications Specialist.

Dispatchers here at Lewiston Police Department work two 12-hour shifts, and two eight-hour shifts a week.

Today three are on shift, each taking a different responsibility, one taking 911 calls, one dispatching fire, and one dispatching police. And their job is a never ending stream of paperwork, 911 calls, communicating with first responders, and being the lifeline for officers on duty.

Communication Specialist Kass Wilponen was working the night when Officer Doug Woods was attacked by a wanted felon, armed, with a toy gun.

"He calls in and we asked if he wants back up, or another officer asks if he wants back up, naw, I'm 10-4 it was very relaxed, and then it was..." said Wilponen.

"But we weren't hearing from Woods anymore, we were just hearing all the other officers that were going that direction, cause he was busy fighting that guy to the ground,” said Wilponen. “It was maybe only two minutes before the first officer got there, a very long two minutes."

Neither the suspect nor Officer Woods were seriously hurt.

“I like the ones that are resolved and you know resolved with a positive outcome,” said Tori Brown, Communication Watch Supervisor. “I like when it's a happy ending... it's nice to have closure."

But not all calls have closure, and some of them take these dispatchers to a place of empathy.

"Anytime you have a child calling, or a parent or a loved one calling about a child. those are very hard for me, I have kids of my own, you instantly relate those to your own, and so those are hard calls to deal with,” said Smith.

But in the end, they all agree this job can also bring a level of fulfilment other jobs never could.

"Our job and police in general, we really are trying to help people,” said Wilponen.

"Helping people, I mean honestly, it’s why we started,” said Brown.

"It seems cliché©, and that's what people say, but that's why we're in this job... it's to help people."

Lewiston police are looking for people interested in becoming 911 dispatchers. For more information, just click on this link. https://www.cityoflewiston.org/content/850/888/902/924.aspx

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