Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef thanked the county’s 911 dispatchers for their invaluable work in 2011. The county’s 70 dispatchers managed in excess of 700,000 emergency calls last year. More than 100,000 calls went to the county’s Sheriff’s Communications Center and another 200,000 each were made to the Clarkstown, Orangetown and Ramapo police departments according to Pablo Ramos, the county’s 911 coordinator.
“It’s a wonderful thing that you do on behalf of all Rockland residents,” Vanderhoef told the assembled dispatchers, noting they had to deal with the extraordinary events of a hurricane Irene, an earthquake and an October snowstorm.
He proclaimed April 8 through April 14 as in Rockland. Vanderhoef delivered heartfelt thanks from the county’s 315,000 residents on Wednesday.
Teri Hamilton, a dispatcher with the county and president of the Rockland 911 Dispatchers Association, said landline 911 calls go to the village and town police department dispatchers and cell phone calls go to 44 Control. She described the county’s knowledgeable and dedicated dispatchers as the true first responders because they get the emergency calls and notify the appropriate services. Clarkstown Police Department Dispatch Coordinator Rich Cummings said they received 11 phone calls per minute at the height of Hurricane Irene’s passage through Rockland in August.
Vanderhoef commended the dispatchers for handling emergency situations in a composed manner.
“We’re trying to highlight the importance of the dispatchers and what you do keeping people calm during terrible terrible situations and trying to make sure they get the help,” he said.
The Association is honoring two local dispatchers and the entire group at its annual dinner on Saturday, April 14. Brian Davidson, a Clarkstown dispatcher, and Mark Rooney, a Ramapo dispatcher, will be recognized for their roles in helping to save lives. Davidson helped save the life of an 11-month old baby who was not breathing and Rooney talked an armed suicidal person into putting down their weapon and leaving a residence.
Hamilton said the third award will go to the county’s dispatchers as a whole. They will be honored as the overall award winner for “performance above and beyond during Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.”
“We set unprecedented statistical amounts of calls,” she said. “We handled them under unusual circumstances throughout the county. However, this storm was just astronomical in the county.”