‘They are the behind the scenes heroes,’ dispatchers keep callers, officers calm during Oregon District shooting

As a shooter opened fire in a busy Oregon District, killing nine and injuring 37 others, officers ran to take him down.  Behind the scenes, dispatchers began taking calls from people panicking about what they were seeing.

“It’s their calming voice on the other end of the phone or the other end of the radio...that helps everybody get through,” said Capt. Jay Wheeler, commander of the Montgomery County Regional Dispatch Center, which fields calls for Dayton and several other surrounding cities and townships.

Wheeler said it was a female dispatcher who heard the officers call out reports that the shooter was opening fire on innocent people in the busy entertainment district.

Her training and knowledge helped her get the crews the extra help they needed.

“She put a lot of faith in knowing her crews and knowing their voices and knowing this is where this guy was five minutes ago,” Wheeler said.  “That’s why she was able to drop the 99 for the officer in need of assistance.”

Then there were the other dispatchers who fielded the 911 calls that came into the dispatch center.

“They did shine,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler said several dispatchers who were off simply showed up to help out their fellow co-workers.

“Just like the tornadoes a few months ago, we had dispatchers self report here to help out,” Wheeler said.  “It’s a testament to the dedication they have to the job.”

As the region begins to heal from the terror unleashed on innocent victims, the dispatchers will continue to put in their headsets and field the calls from people who need their help.  Wheeler said he wants his workers to know their work is appreciated.

“People do care about them,” Wheeler said.  “I’m proud of them.”

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