Salute to Service
Aside from learning the basics of public-safety dispatching, Leslie County Dispatcher Phyllis Pennington also graduated inspired from the Department of Criminal Justice’s Public Safety Dispatch Academy Class No. 113 in July 2017.
“When I was at DOCJT, (Instructor) Chad Powell came in and talked to us about the [Kentucky] Law Enforcement Memorial,” Pennington said. “He told us police officers have their memorial, and there is a memorial for firefighters, but there wasn’t anything for dispatchers.”
That is about to change. On May 5, a ground-breaking ceremony was held outside the Leslie County 911 Dispatch office for a dispatcher monument.
“It’s the first of its kind in Kentucky, and it may be the first in the nation,” DOCJT Telecommunications Supervisor Monica Pattison said.
During the ground-breaking ceremony, Powell talked about the importance of dispatcher professionals.
“The overall message was that dispatchers are the hub of public safety,” Powell said. “They are the first line in public safety and, a lot of times, their dedication and their quality of work goes unnoticed.”
Law enforcement has local, state and national memorials. So do firefighters, and dispatchers deserve nothing less, Powell said.
“There’s a national EMS memorial and a proposal for a state EMS memorial,” Powell continued. “But there has never been a mention about dispatch. Yes, they may not be inside a home that is on fire, or on a street being fired upon, but their job is just as important as ours.”
Though it will be known as the Leslie County 911 Dispatcher Memorial, Pennington said it is open to all dispatch agencies.
“It’s going to be a memorial where we can add names on bricks,” Pennington said. “(Dispatchers) have to be or have been a (KLEC-certified) 911 dispatcher. They can either bring the bricks up and we will place them, or they can send them and we’ll place them.”
The brick must have the agency’s and dispatcher’s name along with the dates of service. The memorial is not a line-of-duty death memorial, Pennington said.
“As a dispatcher, you give your time and effort and you take care of your community,” she said. “It recognizes them, and we need to honor all of our 911 dispatchers.”
The project has been funded by private donations and is expected to be completed by late summer 2018.
There will be at least three names on the memorial when it officially opens, Pennington said. Leslie County 911 dispatchers Karen Gibson and Charlie Pence will be included. A dispatcher from another agency who died of a heart attack also will be honored.
Agencies wishing to add names to the monument can contact Pennington at (606) 672-2986 or (606) 279-3544.