South Walton Fire District Celebrates Communication Operators - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

South Walton Fire District Celebrates Communication Operators

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They are the people on the other end of 911 and they help us through some of the worst days we can imagine.

This week marks National Public Safety Telecommunications Week and at the South Walton Fire District they have reason to celebrate.

They have been awarded to revamp their dispatch systems.

The "Assistance to Firefighters Grant" comes in at around $324,000 and will streamline the way their Communication's Operators disseminate calls, providing even faster service.

For those working 12 hours on each day, it's one more way to help them help us.

When emergencies happen, first responders spring to action racing to the scene; but before they ever make there, the call starts at dispatch.

You might call them the "first first responders" and it is the communication's job to guide us through our panic when the unthinkable happens.

"We are the first people they talk to, we are the first ones that basically help them through the worst days of their lives," said SWFD Communications Operator, Nick Pearson.

For Pearson and his team, it's more than a job: it's a purpose.

"It's just a very good feeling when you can walk away at the end of the day and know that you helped somebody," said Pearson.

"It's that first instant that if that information isn't passed on correctly, if it isn't disseminated right, then the call is not going to go well. So, it's really important that we honor our men and women behind the scenes," said Sanchez.

In a week a week that does just that, they have another reason to celebrate: a brand new federal grant, to the tune of $324.5k dollars will now renovate their dispatch equipment, providing the latest in efficiency and safety.

"The better equipment that we have to locate that caller to get responding units out there as quick as possible, the better it is for the citizens that are out there," said Communications Director, Lynnette Doyal.

After all, these guys are the first line of defense when disaster may come our way.

According to Sanchez, South Walton Fire District responds to more than 1200 calls a month and this grant will only improve this critical communication link between help and the people who need it.