It’s hard to believe it has been ten years now since NICE launched its annual PSAPs’ Finest Award Program. Over the past decade I’ve had the honor of administering the program, and in the process, reading and learning about so many dedicated public safety communications professionals. Their stories never cease to amaze and inspire me.
The only downside of the program is that the judges can only pick one winner in each category (telecommunicator, technician, line supervisor, director) every year. There are so many more unsung heroes. So let me share the story of one such individual who caught my attention.
Her name is Sarah Arrants and she’s a 911 dispatcher with the Grand Junction (CO) Regional Communications Center. On March 9, 2012 Sarah took a 911 call from an employee of a liquor store who called to report an armed robbery. Sarah obtained a description of the suspect, noting that he was wearing a red hooded sweatshirt and had stitches on the side of his face. She quickly realized that a man meeting the same description had been mentioned in another call she had taken less than an hour before. Sarah put two and two together and called the woman back. She confirmed that in addition to having stitches on his face, the suspect (the woman’s brother) was indeed wearing a red hooded sweatshirt (just like the suspect in the armed robbery). Upon learning that the woman and her four children were at a hotel two blocks from the liquor store, and that the suspect had just returned and was in the bathroom, Sarah discreetly advised the woman to get out of the room and away from the suspect. She then dispatched officers. After a brief standoff with officers, the suspect was taken into custody. Because of her quick thinking, Sarah was credited with preventing a potential hostage situation, and also instrumental in the quick and safe apprehension of the suspect.
Perhaps you know of an extraordinary story of an unsung 911 hero you’d like to share. If you know of a 911 communications professional who has made a real difference in your agency or community I strongly encourage you to nominate that person for PSAPs’ Finest Award. It only takes a few minutes to complete the online form to nominate that individual. You can access the form and read more about the program here: http://finest.nice-files.com/.