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The Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) proudly announces that Martin Doyle, Deputy Director at OEMC, was named Director of the Year and Susan Dennewitz, Police Communications Officer II of OEMC was named Trainor of the Year by the Illinois Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (IL-APCO). Over the past 25 years, OEMC has been is recognized for the award-winning staff who are committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of residents.
The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) is a professional trade organization committed to providing public safety communications expertise, professional development, technical assistance, advocacy and outreach on behalf of call takers and dispatchers. The winner is selected by a committee who reviews nominations submitted from dispatch centers throughout the state of Illinois. The award will be presented at the 2021 Illinois Public Safety Telecommunications Association Conference held in Springfield.
“For the last 25 years, Chicago’s 9-1-1 Center has been home to several state and national award-winning personnel and with the challenges we’ve faced this year, this is well deserved,” said OEMC Executive Director Rich Guidice. “I am extremely proud to see the actions and commitment of our 9-1-1 personnel working behind the scenes to address concerns of our residents, businesses and visitors in dire need be honored. We commend them for their ability and actions to keep Chicago safe. All of us at OEMC congratulate them and thank them for their focus.”
In its 25-year history, OEMC has been home to many APCO award winners, recognized nationally and locally, in public safety, including Dispatcher of the Year in 2013, 2017, 2019; Public Safety Telecommunications Trainer of the Year in 2010, 2014, 2016; and national honors in 2016 for Trainer of the Year and 2017 and 2019 for Dispatcher of the Year.
In 1995, OEMC was created as a state-of-the-art facility to house the Chicago Police and Fire Departments emergency communication operations. The 9-1-1 call takers and dispatchers decipher chaotic, critical situations, often coordinating several points of information and developing events. Even so, they utilize their training and available resources to continue to find ways to bring a trying event to a safe conclusion, demonstrating their professionalism and concern for not only the victim, but also the safety of first responders and the general public.
Earlier this year, OEMC awarded several 9-1-1 call takers, dispatchers, supervisors and trainers for their above-and-beyond efforts in handling 9-1-1 calls to a positive outcome. Below are three incidents of the vital work being done each day at the 9-1-1 Call Center that were singled out for recognition.
A call taker on the 9-1-1 Operations Floor received a call reporting several offenders running down the street with armloads of clothing. The 9-1-1 zone and citywide dispatchers worked together to coordinate multiple police responders in several locations as the offenders continued to move on public transportation; thereby jeopardizing public as well as first responder safety. With constant updates and monitoring by the team and collaborative efforts of transit and agency communications, the incident concluded safely with the apprehension of the offenders and recovery of property.
When an OEMC 9-1-1 call taker received a call from a female locked in a bathroom as refuge from offenders who attacked her and would not let her leave, the call taker tried to find her location. Since the victim did not know the address of where she was being held, it was critical to get as much information from the caller as possible to send help her way. Trying to keep the victim calm, the call taker determined the general location and sent first responders to that area. As help arrived in the area, the victim was asked to shine her flashlight from her cell phone to signal first responders to her exact location. By the operators’ quick thinking and utilizing resources available in an unconventional use, the victim was rescued.
Because of the dedicated efforts of this team of call takers and dispatchers over different jurisdictions, children traveling in a car when the driver became incapacitated, were safely recovered and assisted. While coordinating calls from the children’s frantic mother and trying to find the location of the vehicle; the 9-1-1 team continued to relay information over several zones to achieve a positive outcome.
25 Years of Service to the City of Chicago
Since 1995, OEMC has evolved in ways to secure the safety and security of Chicago’s residents whether in a 9-1-1 incident or an emergency. Many are familiar with OEMC’s role in providing public safety planning and coordination for everything from large-scale special events to weather-related emergencies affecting public safety and homeland security related responsibilities for the last 25 years.
In 2020, OEMC is still focusing on the number one priority–protecting the lives and property of the City of Chicago. Since January, OEMC, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office and Chicago Department of Public Health, has led the citywide response effort to COVID-19. This includes the establishment of the COVID-19 Task Force and the longest running Emergency Operation Center (EOC) in OEMC history. OEMC has also faced civil unrest, record lake levels, severe weather and other emergency situations amid the pandemic.
Over the years, OEMC has driven several initiatives to help the city prepare for unplanned events and emergencies. Building on the progress and lessons learned during public safety exercises, this year OEMC has utilized that knowledge to coordinate the City of Chicago’s response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Civil Unrest, flooding, tornados, extreme heat, winter weather and other emergencies.
For additional information on emergency preparedness information, visit our website at Chicago.gov/OEMC. Follow the Office of Emergency Management and Communications on Facebook, Twitter (@ChicagoOEMC) and Instagram (chicago_oemc_911) using the hashtags #ChicagoOEMC #Smart911 #Chicago911 #BeSafeChicago. To receive emergency alerts from the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications subscribe to Chicago’s text or email alert system at NotifyChicago.org.
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