Heroes with headsets: celebrating those who answer the call

Published on April 17, 2024


“9-1-1 what’s your emergency?” In times of intense personal crisis and community-wide disasters, the first point of contact for those seeking immediate relief is a calm voice on the other end of their phone.

From Apr. 14 through 20, the Kaua‘i Police Department (KPD) is celebrating National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week in honor of the men and women who answer emergency calls, coordinate emergency response efforts and render life-saving assistance to those in need.

Last year, Emergency Service Dispatchers at KPD received 58,387 calls for service. With empathy and composure, dispatchers are the community’s lifeline that ensures rapid response by emergency personnel.

Elton Ushio, Administrator of the Kaua‘i Emergency Management Agency, presented dispatchers with a proclamation on behalf of Mayor Derek Kawakami. “Dispatchers provide that critical link between the public and first responders. We recognize and thank each and every one of them for the services they have provided to our community and first responders,” said Elton.

Dispatchers play an indispensable role in enabling first responders to effectively carry out their duties. KPD dispatchers manage calls not only for police, but fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS), in addition to taking non-emergency calls and monitoring radio communications.

KPD currently employs 10 full-time emergency services dispatchers, half the staffing that is required to maintain normal operations. However, these committed individuals have voluntarily taken on additional hours and sacrificed time off to ensure that emergency assistance is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Our dedicated team has been working tirelessly to ensure that every shift is staffed, guaranteeing that the critical staffing level does not impact the efficiency of 9-1-1 emergency services,” said Police Chief Todd Raybuck. “Especially this past weekend, they went above and beyond to keep both community members and first responders safe during a time of crisis. Their selfless service has saved countless lives, and though they may remain unknown to most, today and every day, we pay tribute to these heroes with headsets.”

Dispatching requires strong multitasking abilities, but while the technical skills of the job can be taught, it is a genuine passion for helping others that turns this job into a rewarding career for some.

Christina Chong Tim has been a dispatcher for 17 years and was recognized as an Outstanding Employee for 2023. “People are not calling you on their best day. Their emotions are high and they’re seeking your help,” shares Christina. “Knowing that I’m going into work each day and making a difference in someone's life gives me great pride in what I do.”

Are you passionate about making a positive difference in your community? KPD is actively seeking individuals with a heart for service to join the ‘ohana and help safeguard our community. Recruitment for emergency services dispatchers is ongoing and offers a generous benefits package. Find out more by visiting the County of Kaua‘i’s employment website, www.kauai.gov/jobs.



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