TOPEKA (KSNT) – Six Shawnee County emergency dispatchers are being recognized for their assistance during a major police chase.
Last September, many law enforcement agencies were a part of a police chase that ended with a shootout in Downtown Topeka. Between first call law enforcement received at 9:32 a.m. and the suspect’s arrest just before 11 a.m., six dispatchers held down the fort, aiding first responders in a dangerous pursuit.
Friday, Sept. 29 is the one year anniversary of that chase turned shootout. On Sept. 18, the dispatchers received the “Team of the Year” award presented by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials.
“It means a lot that our peers recognized us here in dispatch,” Floor supervisor Erin Harrell said. “That was an event that was taxing and it took a lot out of us, but it was a super team effort.”
The dispatchers took seven phone calls about the incident. They were in-part nominated for their incredible teamwork and efficient communication during that hectic time.
“When you have shift or group of people who work well together, you don’t have to ask for anything, you already know what to do,” Communications specialist Yolonda Alexander said. “Even though there’s a lot of noise and a lot of conversations with different phone calls, we all pay attention. We have what we call split ear.”
Dispatchers can take in lots of stressful information, but a few say hearing the phrase “shots fired” is never easy.
“When you hear something like that, it makes you just sink in your chair, but you can’t freeze,” Communications specialist Lacey Doiron said. “That just makes us work harder.”
Harrell tells 27 News the team of six that handled the pursuit that day had 119 years of experience between them.