May 24, 2024
911 Center Exterior

Life at the Herkimer County 911 Center

Herkimer County’s 911 center’s staff act as a symbol of hope across the county. Each phone call received can bring a new challenge, and even an opportunity to save a life, and with that, a story of human resilience and commitment.

At the core of the 911 center lies a vital lifeline in the community. Here, with fast pace and empathy, dispatchers await calls from people reaching out for help. Each call presented gives not only the possibility for successful aid to someone in need but also the emotional weight of high-stakes decision making. Navigating through the stress of uncertainty and the urgency of crisis, dispatchers tackle each situation with compassion and resolution.

Operating around the clock, the center is staffed with dedicated employees 24 hours a day, seven days a week, ensuring that no call for help goes unanswered. Located at 71 Reservoir Road, this facility strategically coordinates emergency responses, providing quick assistance to those in need at any hour.

With just three dispatchers working at a time, each one holds influence over many lives, including their own well-being. Communication supervisor Kelly Wares shares, “We have calls here where we deliver babies, give CPR instructions that don’t always have the outcome we would like, and those things wear on you both physically and mentally.”

The small yet dedicated team must always remain alert and ready for anyone in need of assistance even in the most stressful of times.

These dispatchers are the link to connecting residents to the emergency services they need. According to a recent WKTV segment, this center receives around six hundred calls each day. The trained professionals must quickly regulate each circumstance thrown their way by determining the most appropriate response and the necessary solution such as police, fire, emergency medical service (EMS), or other resources.

The Herkimer County Office of Emergency Services is composed of three separate offices: The Office of Emergency Management, The Office of Emergency Communications E911, and The Office of the County Fire Coordinator. Regardless of the emergency being responded to, they each play a significant role in ensuring that help is provided when needed most. Coordination with other agencies such as local police departments is essential for effective emergency responses to develop steady flows of information.    

Although the emotional toll can be overbearing, it is crucial to remain calm under pressure and to relay clear instructions.

Juggling everything from medical emergencies to natural disasters daily can require a lot of mental strength. As of now there are no support systems for staff, however there are ways that they cope with the mental burdens.

Wares believes the occupation can be fulfilling. “That fact is that every time you answer that phone you are making a difference in someone else’s life.”

Being able to make a beneficial change in another’s day or even life is a rewarding aspect that inspires the staff to keep going. However, on days when something stressful happens within the first hours of their long shift, the staff makes jokes and will laugh with each other to lighten their loads.

Wares also says that one of the biggest challenges the center faces is being in a constant state of hiring. Most employees either retire, or the ones that leave will do so for higher paying and better hour jobs. The workers who stay remain driven by commitment to their community.

E911 is often the first point of contact while in a crisis and it is important that appreciation is shown. While not always in public view, this center is essential. This team forms a close-knit unit, supporting one another through the highs and lows of the occupation. It is the spirit of unity and shared purpose that brings the team together through the toughest of calls and happiest successes.

 Although their challenging and successful stories may not be shared so that personal information of others is not violated, community outreach initiatives are taken by visiting schools as well as senior citizens to educate them on safety tips. With their devotion to helping others, it is important to acknowledge and respect their contributions.

There are many responsibilities and struggles the employees of the center must endure, however, the payoff of working like a family and making a difference is the motivation that drives the community.

 Without the continuous consolidated assistance of the Herkimer County 911 center, solutions for people in emergency would not have the guidance or safety they need.