9-1-1 Communicators honor their own, in East Portland

What kind of person is it who can stay kind and calm at a time when distressed, panicked – or just plain nutty – people call ‘911’? Read this, and meet Portland’s ‘Telecommunicator of the Year’ …

Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard thanks City of Portland Bureau of Emergency Communications workers for work well done during the year.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Earlier this month, the City of Portland Bureau of Emergency Communications (BOEC) proudly honored the men and women who serve as public safety dispatchers (9-1-1) during National Public-Safety Telecommunications Week.

As we met with her at the Sheraton Airport Hotel, the BOEC spokesperson, Jacquie Carson, told us, “We’re celebrating the outstanding work our employees perform all year long. Many people don’t stop to think about these individuals until they experience an actual emergency themselves. These professionals make the difference between life and death in many instances.”

Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard and Portland Fire & Rescue Lt. Alan Bronson congratulate the BOEC Telecommunicator of the Year, Kim Bronson, as does her daughter (and Portland Police Bureau Officer) Cassandra Tebo.

Portland’s ‘Telecommunicator of the Year’
Before the dinner program, we had the opportunity to meet and talk with Kim Bronson, BOEC’s Telecommunicator of the Year.

“This is a real honor,” Bronson said modestly. “It’s an honor because I’m proud to have been associated with this bureau for the last 12 years. I think that everybody who does the job knows that is difficult.”

Most important to her, Bronson commented, “is making sure that every call I received is handled in a way that the caller is satisfied to be getting the best of what I can do. It is a real feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day knowing I’ve really helped someone.

“Another part is making sure the officers and firefighters are safe when they are working in the community.”

Bronson admitted she has a personal stake in helping to assure the safety of cops and firefighters. “My daughter is a Portland Police Officer, my husband is a Portland Fire & Rescue Lieutenant. We’re a family who is proud to serve our community.”

Jacquie Carson, BOEC Public Information Officer, congratulates Victoria Seifert; she was selected as their “Outstanding Team Member”. “I’ve now been there for just a little over a year,” Seifert says. “To receive the award so soon after being employed here is quite an honor.”

Reduced ‘on-hold’ time commended
“These men and women are great,” Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard told us before the dinner. “I’m glad to have had their bureau in my office’s portfolio for the past six years.”

Additionally, serving as a firefighter for 25 years – and having a son who is a 9-1-1 call taker – Leonard said he has a personal connection with BOEC.

“As I’ve told people many times, we can have fully-staffed fire and police departments, but unless someone is there to answer the 9-1-1 call, and dispatch it efficiently, those resources don’t do much good. These people are the link that makes the difference between disaster and saved lives.”

Speaking at the dinner, Leonard further commended the group, saying, “I especially thank you for the work you’ve done to reduce the call holding times so significantly. Because of the efforts that all of you are undertaking, more people are going survive. I’m proud to represent you.”

Although we didn’t have the opportunity to meet her, Sherry Alexander was also honored as “Supervisor of the Year” at the event.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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