9-1-1 Center operators awarded in SE Portland

Find out who was honored at Portland’s ‘Telecommunicators of the Year’ awards, and just where the celebration took place this year …

In the Mt. Scott Community Center, the Portland Bureau of Emergency Communications honors its workers at their “BOEC Recognition Program”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Locally celebrating “National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week 2019”, the Portland Bureau of Emergency Communications (BOEC) again honored many of its workers for outstanding service on April 19.

This year, for the first time, the “BOEC Recognition Program” event was held in inner Southeast Portland – at the Mt. Scott Community Center Community Room.

As honorees, guests, and officials partook of hors d’oeuvres and sweet treats before the program, one of the event’s organizers, BOEC Supervisor Chelsea LaBar, explained the purpose of the program.

Helping put on the recognition program are BOEC employees Michelle Perrone, Mike Grimm, and one of its organizers, Chelsea LaBar.

“This is the time and place where we recognize all the great work that has gone on at BOEC during the past year, by our employees,” LaBar began.

Part of the program honors several workers in different categories, as chosen by BOEC employees, she said.

“We also give credit to those who participated in major and important calls, and larger incidents where they worked together as a team; as well as our ‘Storks’, who helped deliver babies, and our ‘Lifesavers’, who gave CPR instructions over the phone,” LaBar told East Portland News

“It’s important for the community to know that BOEC staff are on duty all day, every day, “taking calls and dispatching emergency services to people who are having the ‘worst day of their lives’; being there for them in their time of crisis,” LaBar said.

BOEC Director Bob Cozzie welcomes Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty to the “BOEC Recognition Program”.

The City Commissioner who oversees BOEC, the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management, and Portland Fire & Rescue – JoAnn Hardesty — attended this year. “I came to honor these first responders; these are the people no one sees. It’s important that we recognize the incredible work that they do,” Hardesty said. “These three Bureaus, of which I am the Commissioner, all work together hand-in-hand to help people in Portland.”

The program began with a Portland Police Bureau bagpiper piping in representatives of several law enforcement agencies for the Posting of the Colors.

Master of ceremonies Lt. Tommy Schroeder, of Portland Fire & Rescue, begins the formal program.

Portland Fire & Rescue’s BOEC liaison officer, Lt. Tommy Schroeder, again served as master of ceremonies. “Your hardworking dispatchers and public safety telecommunicators serve as a vital link between your community and fire, medical, and law-enforcement agencies, and act as a critical lifeline to other first-responders; these unsung everyday heroes are always there to answer the call.”

Telecommunicator of the Year

Meet Travis Robinson, BOEC’s “Telecommunicator of the Year”. Dan Douthit photo

Travis Robinson has been a dispatcher at BOEC for 17 years. He’s been a coach, a member of peer support, an instructor in their training academies, and “employee of the month” several times.

Robinson has also received several commendations, including lifesaver and critical incident awards.

In his nomination for “Telecommunicator of the Year”, he was described in several ways: “Always willing to help co-workers,” “You can depend on him,” and, “Travis is approachable.”

Coach of the Year

Helping employees learn to excel is BOEC “Coach of the Year” Sherrie Koss.

Sherrie Koss, BOEC’s “Coach of the Year”, said she’s been with the Bureau for 14 years. “Being a coach means teaching new people this work, and helping them learn how to do it well.

“In addition to learning the procedures, we also help them learn the nuances of this work, sending them off with all the tools and resources and do it well,” Koss explained. “It’s so good to be honored by my trainees for helping them learn to succeed!”

Supervisor of the Year

Emergency Communications’ “Supervisor of the Year”, Kory Oman, says he enjoys supporting call-takers and dispatchers.

Upon being awarded BOEC “Supervisor of the Year”, Kory Oman explained his role philosophically: “I am the bridge between those who ‘cast the vision’, our managers and administrators – and, those who implement it, our workers ‘on the floor’, taking the calls and dispatching.”

Although he’s only been with BOEC for three years, he has two decades of public safety communication experience, Oman remarked – most recently with Clackamas County 9-1-1.

Call-taking can be especially stressful, Oman remarked. “As a supervisor, we need to be constantly aware of the room, and how people are performing – but more importantly, how they’re feeling; and, to make sure that they are supported.”

Outstanding Team Member

His focus on planning leads to Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Grimm being named this year’s “Outstanding Team Member”.

Although he’s been in his position only since last August, Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Grimm brought 18 years of experience as a dispatcher to his new position, he said. “I am responsible for our ‘Continuity of Operations Plan’, like our evacuation plans, what’s going to happen when we have an emergency at the 9-1-1 Center.

“The whole thrust of my job is taking care of our dispatchers, as they take care of the people of Portland,” said Grimm.

Champ Award

Senior Dispatcher Bridget Rhodes is declared as BOEC’s “Champ” for consistently giving “that extra little something”.

Now in her fourth year with the Bureau, Senior Dispatcher Bridget Rhodes said the “Champ Award” traditionally goes to a person who helps out her coworkers.

“For example I put together a number of fundraiser events for injured employees, coworkers, and officers – and enlisted other peers helped out,” Rhodes said. “I ‘got the ball rolling’, and others helped out and joined in.

“I do this, ‘giving the extra little something’ in addition to my work, because it’s good knowing – if you’re hurt or injured on the job, or come down with an illness – that your peers are supporting you and helping you out.”

During the program, the Bureau recognized employees in the categories of Critical Incident, Life Saver Award, and Stork Award. Also recognized were those receiving certifications in call-taking, police dispatch, and fire dispatch.

To learn more about BOEC, see their webpage: CLICK HERE.

© 2019 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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