The Saline County Sheriff's telecommunication staff was named Illinois Sheriff's Association's Telecommunicator of the Year award last week at the association's Mid-Winter Conference held in Springfield.
The staff handled over 2,200 calls in a 16 hour period starting early on Feb. 29, 2012, when the EF-4 tornado struck killing eight people. The normal 24 call load is 300 calls.
The staff not only dispatched initial crews for assistance, but was able to reach out and request assistance from other agencies. In the first two hours 30 squad cars arrived from outside the county and 15 fire agencies responded who had to be coordinated along with 20 EMS crews from the region.
During the tornado both counties were effected by the tornado and telecommunicators were able to direct resources to both areas, without calling in assistance for dispatching purposes. “The staff just showed up after the tornado, no one was forced to come to work, the telecommunicators just came to work and at times six telecommunicators were in the dispatch center,” “It shows their true dedication to the their job,” said Sheriff Keith Brown.