The daily work of first responders in the field can only work if there is someone on the radio providing them with information, and someone taking calls from those in need of help via 911.

So this week, take a moment to think about the work being done by 911 operators and dispatchers across the country as the United States celebrates National Public Safety Telecommunications Week.

Polk County 911 Director Crystal Vincent has been sharing photos of the people who are on the other line relaying information and sending police, fire and EMS personnel to scenes to provide assistance during emergency situations or in helping officers during traffic stops, responding to incidents or making arrests.

“They’re unsung heroes who go to work daily to make our county a safer place. Our 911 dispatchers are some of Polk County’s finest,” Vincent said. “I have a great group of people who always go above and beyond to get the job done. I’m very proud of my employees and department as a whole. They deserve a huge thanks and more recognition than they get. Not only this week, but every day of the year.”

Polk County 911’s 14 staff members make a daily commitment to ensuring the community stays safe, like the more than 98,000 who report to work daily for the good of everyone across the country. (Those statistics are based on 2019 figures provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

Upgrades in recent years and their new home at the operations center in the Emergency Management Building give Polk County’s 911 operators a leg up in ensuring they are getting help to the right address when people call in for help, but the forthcoming public safety radio system upgrade is going to make their work of communicating with first responders in the field easier than it is now.

As part of the weeklong celebration of the dispatchers who work across the country, Polk County is also celebrating a longtime employee of the 911 Department.

Candace Guttery has spent the past 18 years behind the screens and on the other end of the phone helping people in need, and she was profiled by the county online for her tireless work in assisting people over nearly two decades.

The Polk County Government posted this to their Facebook page to honor Guttery:

We’re celebrating National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week by recognizing one of our own!

Meet Candace Guttery! She has worked in our 911 center for 18 years and answers approximately 150-200 calls in a 12 hour shift. When asked why she joined Polk County 911, Candace stated that she wanted to be “someone’s support in the moment of their crisis” and also strived to keep the community safe.

We asked Candace if she had any advice for someone having thoughts of starting a career in public safety telecommunications. She responded that the job is “very rewarding knowing that you have helped someone in their moment of need, but can also be very stressful. Always remember that you are someone else’s life line.”

We’d like to thank ALL of our employees working in public safety telecommunications! You are appreciated so much! 

Note: My personal thanks goes out to all 911 dispatchers who help ensure our community remains safe. We all appreciate what you do! – KtE

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