Making The Call On Life-Death Decisions

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A call comes in to the dispatch office at the Payson Police Department reporting an intoxicated man who has walked out of the emergency room against the advice of hospital workers.

The man's blood-alcohol content at the time of his examination was .575 --more than five times the legal limit.

The dispatcher sends a police officer to the area. The officer locates the man and determines that no crime has been committed, since Payson does not have an ordinance against public intoxication.

While helping the officer try to decide what to do with the apparently homeless man, the dispatcher is approached by a woman who walks into the Town Hall lobby and wants to report a stolen vehicle. The dispatcher calmly hands the woman a form to fill out, then discovers the inebriated man has money he left at the hospital.

After determining the subject has enough cash to cover the cost of a hotel room, she then calls local hotels to find one with a vacancy.

As this series of incidents Friday afternoon attest, police dispatchers "do a little bit of everything," said Irma Bramlet, communications supervisor for the Payson Police Department.

This week, the Town of Payson and the Payson Police Department will honor the town's telecommunicators, or dispatchers, during National Telecommunication Week.

To honor Payson's dispatchers, the Payson Police Department treated its crew to dinner at Mario's Monday night.

Telecommunicators are typically the first link between the community and the police department, said Payson Police Chief Gordon Gartner. "They have to be very professional, kind and compassionate, and willing to listen to the public," he said.

The new crew
The Payson Police Department has undergone a few changes in its dispatch office over the past several months, including a major change in personnel.

The telecommunications department has six full-time and three part-time dispatchers on staff.

Aside from veteran dispatcher Julieanne Reeves, reserve dispatchers Julie Ochs and Jill Van Camp, and part-time dispatchers Alison Murphy and Linda Smith, the rest of the dispatchers are relative newcomers.

"Everybody else has been here for less than a year," Bramlet said. "But, I feel we have a very good crew here."

The "newcomer" status of the new crew may be to their advantage, she said. Over the past year, the dispatch office has undergone some major changes.

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