By Tim Kowols and Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski
Members of the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department dispatch team are a rarity in their profession as National Public Safety Telecommunications Week approaches. Kewaunee County is one of the last agencies in the state that has combined dispatcher/jailer positions, allowing the department to have extra flexibility while on duty and meeting the state’s requirement of two jailers on shift at all times. Add in the adjustments of new technology changing the way dispatchers communicate with deputies and members of the public, Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski says they provide new meaning to “multi-tasking.”
With a new jail facility on the horizon, Joski says the future of the dual-role position will be a topic of conversation. You can read this week’s Sheriff’s Corner with Matt Joski online with this story.
With all of the tragedies we have seen unfold throughout our nation, we hear very little about the critical role that the dispatcher played in each and every one of these events. We seem to always focus on those resources that respond to the scene with the lights and sirens, but all too often forget about the amazing men and women who are the first ones to get the call and many times try to make sense out of frantic voices on the other end of the line. Without the skills of the Public Safety Telecommunicator, none of the subsequent efforts would be possible.
Each Year the second week of April is designated as Public Safety Telecommunications recognition week. While this role in public safety is not as recognized or publicized as a Law Enforcement Officer, Fire Fighter, or Rescue Personnel, it is without a doubt as important as those other professions. The Public Safety Telecommunicator is the first contact in most critical events. Whether it is a motor vehicle accident, a fire, a crime, or even someone locking their keys in their car, the first voice they will hear that will ultimately get them the services they need will be the voice of a Public Safety Telecommunicator.
Most people refer to them as dispatchers, and while this is one of the key roles they perform, there is much more to this position. Here in Kewaunee County we have the distinction of being one of the last agencies that “Dual Role” our staff. The official title for this position at the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department is Jailer/ Dispatcher. What this means is that our Dispatchers also serve as our Jailers, and our Jailers as our dispatchers. This allows us to meet the state requirement to have two jailers on shift at all times. While there is no requirement to have two dispatchers on at all times, having the flexibility to have a second dispatcher when those critical calls come in is definitely an advantage.
Most of us have heard of “Multi- Tasking” but I don’t think you can truly appreciate that phrase until you see what the typical day is in the life of one of these staff members. Even the most minor of calls will require them to take the initial call, communicate that call to the proper response unit, and further more document that call with absolute accuracy all at the same time. When you take this to the level of a multi-agency response to a major event such as a structure fire, their skills are truly put to the test. It is fitting that we take some time to give our appreciation to those who truly are on the front lines of keeping our communities safe.
I want to personally thank all of the men and women who hold these law enforcement positions and I want to reiterate that they do in fact “Serve and Protect with Pride and Integrity” the citizens of Kewaunee County just as any other member of our law enforcement family.
I know that I may be a bit early in sharing this information, but I wanted people to have time to reach out and thank our Dispatchers leading up to this important week of recognition. Please feel free to call our non-emergency line at (920)388-7108 and thank the on-duty dispatcher for all that they do. Just please do not all call at the same time!