Dispatch center's emergency work wins Spirit of Central Illinois

MACON COUNTY, Ill. (WAND)-- This week is National Safety Telecommunication Week, and WAND News decided to honor the people working at the Central Illinois Regional Dispatch Center. Calls from across Macon County poured into the center, only being answered by a handful of people.

"A dispatcher might take up to 130 calls a day in an 8 hour period," one woman told WAND News.

However, dispatchers have no idea what to expect when the phone rings. 

"It could literally be anything," said emergency communications specialist Haley Veener. "It could be somebody who is with their mother who just had a stroke and has no idea what to do. It could be somebody whose boyfriend was just violent with them or a girlfriend who was just violent with them. So I mean it's anything and everything. You're kind of amped up and just have to know how to quickly react to it."

Gretchen Hurst tells us about a call she just finished.

"I just took a call from a family who they had a family member who wasn't breathing and so I was giving CPR instructions over the phone," she said. 

Kelly Root, another Emergency Communications Specialist says,

"You feel like you're making a difference even though you don't really get to see you're making a difference," said Kelly Root, another specialist.

When asked how they prepare for the next time the phone rings," Root says it's important to just be ready.

That is why Central Illinois Regional Dispatch Center is this week's Spirit of Central Illinois recipient.

Dispatchers tell WAND News different ways to prepare people in case they have to call for help. They advise people to make sure they know where they are. Another tip would be to expect a lot of questions, and try to answer the questions as detailed as possible. Lastly, it's important to make sure to stay calm.

Anyone interested in nominating someone for the Spirit of Central Illinois Award can send an email to jacklynn.boatman@wandtv.com.