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Voices on other end of 911 are honored

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PROVO — Picture yourself sitting at a desk with six telephones. Let’s say two start ringing at the same time. A bit awkward, but manageable. Now, imagine all six phones ringing off the hook for three hours. Think you can handle it?

Gigi Smith, of Utah APCO, talks with Mike Veenendaal of Valley Emergency Communications Center after the incident of the Year award.
Gigi Smith, of Utah APCO, talks with Mike Veenendaal of Valley Emergency Communications Center after the incident of the Year award.

Provo’s dispatchers did on Feb. 17, 2008, when a fiery explosion rocked the Pacific States Cast Iron Pipe Co., shaking homes for miles around and prompting a flood of calls to 911. “With all those lines going off, I don’t know how they were able to do it,” said Provo Police Lt. Jeff Lougee, who was dispatch manager at the time. “It was multitasking at its utmost at that moment.” The Provo City Communications Center, the Valley Emergency Communications Center and the DPS/Box Elder Communications Center were all honored Friday by the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials for their calm yet quick responses to emergencies during the 2008 year. “What the dispatchers do every day is so important,” said Gigi Smith, president of the Utah chapter of APCO. “(To some) they’re just a voice behind a telephone. But people don’t realize what they do in a day’s work.”

Source: The Deseret News